There are three species of bay trees that are native to the southeastern United States. Two of these species are common and widespread trees of forests and swamps. The third species is a rare tree that is endemic to the sandy scrub lands of Central Florida. This tree is the silk Bay, Persea humilis. It is adapted to the hot, sunny scrubs and sandhill of Florida. It is distinguished by the silky, russet-brown hairs that are on the undersides of the leaves. It also is, like many of the other native scrub species, a smaller tree and it often produces lots of flowers and fruits when a small shrub a few feet tall. Like the other bay species, the leaves are edible and have a scent like that of the bay laurel. They can be used to flavor soups and meats.
Growing Instructions for the Silk Bay
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.