Redbay is an evergreen tree or large shrub native to coastal areas of southeastern US where it grows in sandy low woods, swamps, pond margins, and pine savannas from North Carolina and Arkansas, south to Florida and Texas with spotty distribution in the Mississippi Valley. It is a member of the laurel family, Lauraceae that also includes bay avocado, sassafras, and cinnamon. Plants often have low branches and reddish brown bark that develops irregular furrows with maturity. The lance-shaped leaves are leathery and three to six inches long. They are clustered toward the tips of the stems and are aromatic when crushed . In late spring panicles of small greenish-yellow flowers appear in the leaf axils in and give way to blue-black berry like fruit that is attractive to birds and small mammals. Redbay is very adaptable and can be used as a shade tree in patios, lawns, and median strips.
Type: Evergreen tree or large shurb
Outstanding Feature: Foliage
Form: Upright, oval to round
Growth Rate: Moderate
Bloom: Panicles of small greenish-yellow flowers in leaf axils in spring
Size: 30-50’ H x 30-50’ W
Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Average, moist, acidic; drought tolerant
Hardiness: Zones 7 (with protection) – 10
Care: Prune when young to promote good structure.
Pests and Diseases: Leaf miners, laurel wilt, twig die back, galls, scale insects