Laurelia sempervirens

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Laurelia sempervirens
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Atherospermataceae
Genus: Laurelia
L. sempervirens
Binomial name
Laurelia sempervirens
  • Atherosperma sempervirens (Ruiz & Pav.) Baill.
  • Laurelia aromatica Juss. ex Poir.
  • Laurelia serrata Bertero
  • Pavonia sempervirens Ruiz & Pav.
  • Theyga chilensis Molina
  • Thiga chilensis Molina

Laurelia sempervirens is a species of evergreen tree in the family Atherospermataceae (formerly Monimiaceae). Common names include Peruvian nutmeg,[3] tihue or trihue (from the Mapuche language), and Chilean laurel[4] or Chilean sassafras.

It is endemic to Chile, occurring at 34–41° south latitude. It requires a warm subtropical to tropical climate that is cool but also frost-free or with only very slight winter frosts not below −4 °C (25 °F), with high summer heat, rainfall and humidity. It grows best on well-drained, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter. This is typical laurel forest habitat. However, the southern hemisphere genus Laurelia is not closely related to the laurels (Lauraceae), despite the similarity.

The tree is known as triwe in Huilliche and laurel in Spanish.[5] It is the ritual tree of the Huilliche people of Futahuillimapu.[5]


The tihue is a large (up to 30 m (98 ft) tall and 2 m (6.6 ft) in diameter) evergreen tree with smooth, pale yellow bark. The bark cracks when ageing, coming off in roughly circular plates. The wood and the leaves are strongly aromatic. The bright green leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, and are oblong in shape, narrowed at the base. The leaves are leathery, shiny, 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long and 2.5–5 cm (0.98–1.97 in) wide. The serrated edges of the leaves help to distinguish this tree from the closely related Laureliopsis philippiana, which has more deeply toothed leaf margins.

The tihue bears bundles of small yellow unisexual flowers, both male and female on every tree (monoecious).[6] The fruit is a greenish achene with seeds bearing feathery anemophilous filaments. The seed is dispersed by the wind (anemochory).

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Its wood is pale yellow in colour, with a fine and homogeneous texture: the growth rings are not conspicuous. The tree is threatened by habitat loss. It has been introduced into Spain[7] and into Cornwall[8] and planted in Sussex[9] in the UK. The leaves of Laurelia sempervirens were used by Mapuche Amerindians for treating headache and as a diuretic.[10]


  1. ^ González, M. (1998). "Laurelia sempervirens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 1998: e.T34847A9893929. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1998.RLTS.T34847A9893929.en. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  2. ^ "The Plant List".
  3. ^ "Laurelia sempervirens". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  4. ^ Mabberley, D.J. (1997). The plant book: A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521414210.
  5. ^ a b Rumian Cisterna, Salvador (2020-09-17). Gallito Catrilef: Colonialismo y defensa de la tierra en San Juan de la Costa a mediados del siglo XX (M.Sc. thesis) (in Spanish). University of Los Lagos.
  6. ^ Martínez-Laborde, Juan B. (1983). Revision de las Monimiaceae Austroamericanas. Parodiana 2(1): 1–24.
  7. ^ "Chilean plants cultivated in Spain" (PDF). José Manuel Sánchez de Lorenzo-Cáceres. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-20. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  8. ^ Trebah plant and tree inventory 2007, ISBN 0-9521952-1-6: The Trebah specimens of L. sempervirens are catalogued as TB141 and TB198. The latter had a girth of 1.63 metres and a height of 19.05 metres in 2007. There is also a mature specimen at Enys garden, labelled as a "Peruvian laurel". There are probably several other mature specimens in gardens in Cornwall.
  9. ^ "Half-hardy trees in Britain and Ireland - part two". Royal Horticultural Society. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  10. ^ Schmeda-Hirschmann, G.; Loyola, J. I.; Rodriguez, J.; Dutra-Behrens, M. (1994). "Hypotensive effect of Laurelia sempervirens (Monimiaceae) on normotensive rats".

External links[edit]

Media related to Laurelia sempervirens at Wikimedia Commons