Umbellularia californica

California Bay, California Laurel

  • Umbellularia californica

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Min. hardiness zone:
Item ID:

Growing Info

Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: Although the seed does not require pretreatment for germination it may benefit from 90 days cold stratification at 40 F degrees.
Germination: sow 1" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed

Other: fall sowing in mulched beds is prefered to artificial stratification 

Umbellularia californica, also known as California Bay or California Laurel, is a large tree native to the coastal forests of California and extending into Oregon. It is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 meters tall with leaves that have a similar flavor to bay leaves. The fragrant leaves are smooth-edged and lance-shaped, and they may be used as a substitute for the Mediterranean bay leaf in cooking. The fruit, called "California bay nut," resembles a miniature avocado and has been used as food by Native Americans. The tree is also valued in woodworking and is used to construct the backs and sides of acoustic guitars. Umbellularia californica is a host of the pathogen that causes sudden oak death, making it an important species to monitor and protect. With its historical and modern uses, this tree is truly a valuable member of the flora of California and Oregon.

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