Most of the members of the Laurel Family are evergreen tropical trees and shrubs. Some, such as spice bush (Lindera benzoin), and red bay (Persea borbonia) are found in the southern states, while hardier species such as sassafras, are found further north. Avocado (Persea Americana) grown in Florida, and the Mediterranean native, bay laurel (Laurus nobilis),is found in herb gardens or in containers throughout the United States. Another important family member is the cinnamon tree, grown mostly in India. The related camphor tree is found in the tidal zones of the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida. Worldwide there are about 2,500 species in 32 genera.
The significant characteristics of the Laurel Family are:
Leaves, bark and roots are aromatic.
Leaves are usually alternate.
Flowers are regular.
Flowers lack petals but usually have 6 (rarely 4) white, yellow, or greenish yellow sepals.
Other characteristics that can be used to identify the Laurel Family are:
Fruit a drupe (single seeded fleshy, like a cherry or peach)
Usually 12 stamens in four whorls of 3