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Common Name: Red Bay
Persea borbonia is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 15.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
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.