Umbellularia californica
“California Bay Laurel”

Photo by Colin Beale

One of our most beloved native trees for its spectacularly fragrant leaves and beautiful, multi-trunked, often sprawling habit. Found throughout canyons and valleys from SW Oregon all the way down to Baja CA, it grows slowly to 30-40’ tall (some old specimens have reached 100’), often with a very wide crown. It can be pruned to keep it smaller and bushier and can safely be grown in a large container. Its attractive, narrow, medium-green aromatic leaves are often used as a more-potent substitute for bay leaves (which are from Laurus nobilis). In late Winter, umbels of small creamy yellow flowers appear followed by bay nuts, 1” green fruits containing caffeine-rich nuts. Adaptable to nearly every kind of soil. Once established in the ground, it is very drought tolerant and requires no summer water. Plant in sun along the coast or mixed sun/shade in hotter regions. Hardy down to 0 degrees F. A good nectar source for bees. Deer resistant.

Curious Plantsman

Low Water

CA Native Tree
USDA zones 7-10