California Bay Laurel

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 Umbellularia californica subsp. var.  California Laurel, Headache Tree, California Bay Laurel
Foliage and flowers
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
50ft70ft 35ft
Height: 50 ft to 70 ft
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 35 ft
Lifespan: perennial
Bloom: early spring, mid spring, late spring
Exposure: sun
Features: flowers, edible
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 8 to 10
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: orange, yellow
[[]] > Umbellularia californica var. ,

Flowers open in late winter and early spring.

Umbellularia californica is a large tree native to coastal forests of California and slightly extended into Oregon[1].

It is the sole species in the genus Umbellularia. In Oregon, this tree is known as Oregon Myrtle, while in California it is called California Bay Laurel, which may be shortened to California Bay or California Laurel. It has also been called Pepperwood, Spicebush, Cinnamon Bush, Peppernut Tree and Headache Tree.

Its pungent leaves have a similar flavor to bay leaves (though stronger), and it may be mistaken for Bay Laurel. It can be used in place of Bay Leaves, but in smaller quantities due to the strength.

It is an evergreen tree growing to 30 m tall (exceptionally 45 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm thick.

The fragrant leaves are smooth-edged and lens shaped, 3–10 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, similar to the related Bay Laurel though usually narrower, and without the crinkled margin of that species.

The flowers are small, yellow or yellowish-green, produced in a small umbel (hence the scientific name Umbellularia, "little umbel").

The fruit, also known as "California Bay nut", is a round and green berry 2–2.5 cm long and 2 cm broad, lightly spotted with yellow, maturing purple. Under the thin, leathery skin, it consists of an oily, fleshy covering over a single hard, thin-shelled pit, and resembles a miniature avocado. Genus Umbellularia is in fact closely related to the avocado's genus Persea, within the Lauraceae family. The fruit ripens around October-November in the native range.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Umbellularia californica, Nutt. (Oreodaphne californica, Nees). Fig. 3883. Handsome evergreen tree, 20-30 or even 80-90 ft. high, with erect or suberect slender branches, conical outline and dense foliage: lvs. containing a highly aromatic and volatile essential oil, and burning vigorously in the campfire, even while green: fls. fragrant: drupes at first yellowish green, becoming purple when ripe. Dec. to May.—One of the most abundant and characteristic of Californian trees, common in moist places, particularly along streams in the Coast Range foothills and mountains, and attaining its greatest size in the cool fog-moistened alluvial valleys of the coast of N. Calif. and S. Ore.; it is but rarely seen in the drier interior valleys of the state. It often crowns the highest points of the coast-range hills, up to about 2,500 ft. altitude and far from the nearest spring or other visible sign of moisture, but in such cases the rock strata are nearly vertical and easily penetrated by the long roots which are able thus to reach hidden supplies of water. In such places it usually forms dense clumps or thickets of shrubs or small trees which are frequently shorn by the cutting ocean winds as though by a gardener's shears, suggesting its adaptability for clipped-hedge and windbreak work. It is used in boat-building, for jaws, bits, cleats, cross-trees, and the like. The branches are occasionally used for poles for chicken-roosts, as the strong odor pervading wood and bark as well as lvs., is said to keep away lice. The lvs. are used for flavoring soups and blancmanges but are too strong to give as agreeable flavor as those of Laurus nobilis or Prunus Laurocerasus. The tree is sometimes cult. for ornament in S. European parks and gardens. Sargent describes it as "one of the stateliest and most beautiful inhabitants of the North American forests, and no evergreen tree of temperate regions surpasses it in the beauty of its dark dense crown of lustrous foliage and in the massiveness of habit which make it one of the most striking features of the California landscape and fit it to stand in any park or garden."

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Umbellularia (from Latin umbella, a sunshade; referring to form of inflorescence). Lauraceae. California Laurel. Tall umbrageous tree, glabrous, used as a shade tree in California and similar regions.

Leaves alternate, evergreen, petioled, slightly coriaceous: fls. small, greenish, in simple pedunculate umbels, which in the bud are surrounded by an involucre of 6 caducous bracts; perianth-tube very short; limb with 6 segms.; stamens 9, filaments with an orange-colored gland at base, anthers opening by uplifted valves: drupe subglobose or ovoid with a hard endocarp.—One species, Calif. Prop. by seeds. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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