Persea borbonia

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Persea borbonia
Persea borbonia leaves
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Persea
P. borbonia
Binomial name
Persea borbonia
(L.) Spreng.
Natural range
  • Laurus borbonia L.
  • Persea littoralis Small
  • Tamala borbonia (L.) Raf.
  • Tamala littoralis (Small) Small

Persea borbonia or redbay[3] is a small, evergreen tree in the laurel family (Lauraceae), native to the southeastern United States. It belongs to the genus Persea, a group of evergreen trees including bays and the avocado. Persea borbonia has several common names including tisswood,[3] scrubbay, shorebay, and swampbay.


Persea borbonia can be present as either a small tree or a large shrub. It has evergreen leaves that are about 3 to 6 inches long[4] with a lance shape. The leaves are arranged alternately and emit a spicy smell when crushed.[5] The leaves vary in color from bright green to dark green. These trees are capable of producing fruit that is a small, blue or black drupe.[6] Redbay is a perennial, with a non-herbaceous stem that is lignified.[7]


Persea borbonia grows in the coastal margins of the southeastern United States. It is endemic to the lowlands of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and eastern North Carolina. Small, isolated populations can be found in coastal Virginia, and near the Maryland and Delaware state line.[8] It also grows in the Bahamas and is cultivated in Hawaii.[9] It usually grows on the borders of swamp land.

Due to an invasion of redbay ambrosia beetle in the Southern United States the tree is slowly dying out. The beetle was discovered in 2002 near Savannah, Georgia and it carries a laurel wilt fungal disease that is responsible for killing redbays.[10] However, foresters agree the species will likely not go extinct in the southeastern U.S. since it appears to rejuvenate to some degree on its own.

Persea borbonia leaf with leaf mines by larvae of the moth Phyllocnistis hyperpersea.


The plant is not widely used now for medicinal purposes, however members of the Seminole tribe formerly used it as an emetic to induce vomiting.[11] The dried-up leaves can be used as a condiment.[12]

The wood is hard and strong and can be used to build boats, cabinets and for lining the interior of structures. The wood is not traded on a large scale so it is confined to the regions where P. borbonia grows.


Persea borbonia is cultivated as an ornamental tree for gardens and parks.


Deer and bears also eat the leaves and fruits of redbay. Birds, including turkey, eat the plant's bitter fruit.[13][12]


  1. ^ Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).; IUCN SSC Global Tree Specialist Group (2018). "Persea borbonia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T135956601A135956603. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T135956601A135956603.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  3. ^ a b "Persea borbonia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ Kim D Coder. "Taxonomy and identification: Redbay (Persea borbonia)" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Persea borbonia Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  6. ^ "Persea borbonia". Floridata. 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  7. ^ "Red Bay (Persea borbonia) Species Details and Allergy Info". Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  8. ^ Dr. Kim D. Coder (May 2012). "Redbay (Persea borbonia): Drifting Toward Oblivion" (PDF). Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources UGA. p. 4. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Persea borbonia". Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  10. ^ "An Undefended Buffet: The Unnecessary Extinction of the Redbay, a Defining Southern Tree, by Susan Cerulean : Articles". Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  11. ^ "Persea borbonia - (L.)Spreng". Plants for a Future. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  12. ^ a b Little, Elbert L. (1980). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. New York: Knopf. p. 450. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
  13. ^ "Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng". Retrieved 2012-06-16.

External links[edit]

Media related to Persea borbonia at Wikimedia Commons