The Redbay is an attractive evergreen tree that is native to the forests of the southeastern United States. It is a member of the Bay laurel family, and like many of the members of this family, it has very spicy, aromatic foliage. It grows up to 65 feet in height. The leaves are used like bay leaves to flavor soups, meats and gumbo. It is a large shrub or a small tree with a crooked or leaning trunk and a dense, rounded canopy. It has dark reddish-brown bark. Leaves are leathery, elliptic and alternate on the branches. They are bright green to dark and shiny above and whitish-green on the undersides. Small, pale yellow flowers are produced in the spring and they develop into dark blue or black fruits in the summer and autumn. Birds eat the fruits. The wood is dark reddish-brown and it takes a beautiful polish. It is used for interior work and for fine cabinetwork and for lumber. P. borbonia grows in sandy to rich moist soils of low woodlands, coastal forests, along the sides of bogs, streams and swamps. It is sometimes found in dry sandy areas in Florida. The redbay is grown in the southeast as an ornamental tree. It is grown for its beautiful, aromatic, evergreen foliage. Hardy in zones 7b-11.
Growing Instructions for the Redbay
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 3 months. 2. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Fill a pot with a mixture of half potting soil and half sand or vermiculite. 3. Sow the seeds ½ inch deep in the soil. 4. Water the container. 5. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 6. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. 7. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.