Silk bay is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to peninsular Florida where it grows in sandy low woods, and margins of swamps and ponds. It is a member of the laurel family, Lauraceae, that also includes bay, avocado, sassafras, and cinnamon, and is sometimes listed as Persea borbonia var. humulis. The bark is reddish-brown and smooth when young but develops furrows and ridges with age. Narrowly elliptical to lance-shaped leaves are one to three inches long and occur in clusters towards the tips of the stems. They have shiny green tops with a dense covering of silky rusty-red hairs beneath and have a fragrance like bay laurel when crushed. Small, greenish-yellow flowers are produced in the leaf axils in spring and produce berry-like blue-black fruit. Silk bay is probably a host plant for palamedes swallowtail and spicebush swallowtail butterflies.
Type: Evergreen shrub or small tree
Outstanding Feature: Foliage
Growth Rate: Moderate
Bloom: Small, greenish-yellow flowers in the leaf axils in spring
Size: 20-30’ H x 10-20’ W
Light: Sun; tolerates some shade
Soil: Lean, dry, well-rained
Hardiness: Zones 8-10
Care: Remove dead or damaged twigs in the spring.
Pests and Diseases: Twig borer, galls, scale, aphid, fungal leaf spot, ermine moth, laural wilt,