The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Red Bay
Persea borbonia is a Evergreen Tree up to 15.00 metres tall.
It has edible, medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
South-eastern N. America - Virginia to Florida, west to Texas.
Sandy to rich moist soils of low woodlands, coastal forests, along the sides of bogs, streams and swamps[
]. Sometimes found in dry sandy areas in Florida[
We have found no cultivation details for this species in Britain, though the tree is likely to require a well-drained light to medium soil in a sunny sheltered position[
]. It is only likely to be hardy in the mildest areas of the country[
The fresh or dried leaves can be used as a flavouring in soups etc[
Red bay was widely employed medicinally by the Seminole Indians who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially as an emetic and body cleanser[
]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.
The leaves are abortifacient, analgesic, antirheumatic, appetizer, emetic and febrifuge[
]. An infusion can be used to abort a foetus up to the age of four months[
]. An infusion is also used in treating fevers, headaches, diarrhoea, thirst, constipation, appetite loss and blocked urination[
]. A strong decoction is emetic and was used as a body purification when treating a wide range of complaints[
]. A decoction of the leaves is used externally as a wash on rheumatic joints and painful limbs[
Wood - hard, heavy, close-grained, very strong, rather brittle[
]. It weighs 40lb per cubic foot[
]. The wood works well and is suitable for interior uses such as cabinets, but trees with large straight trunks are not sufficiently common to make the tree of commercial interest[
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first 2 winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors.