Alphabetical Plant Listing

Umbellularia californica (California Laurel)

California Laurel, California Bay, Oregon Myrtle, Pepperwood, Balm of Heaven, Californian Olive Tree, Californian Sassafras Tree, Californian Spice Tree, Headache Tree


Intensely aromatic, Umbellularia californica (California Laurel) is typically a highly-branched evergreen tree adorned with a broad, rounded, dense crown. However, on poor or dry sites, California Laurel often remains an erect shrub. The narrow, lance-shaped leaves are aromatic, glossy green and leathery. Marketed as a food seasoning, they can be substituted for its Mediterranean relative, Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), in cooking. But their flavor is more pungent. California Laurel blooms profusely from winter to late spring. Clusters of 6-10 small, pale yellow, fragrant flowers appear in the leaf axils or near the terminal buds. They may stand out from the foliage. They are followed by inedible, greenish, olive-like fruits which turn dark purple when ripe. Numerous insects and birds are attracted to the flowers and fruits. The greenish to reddish-brown bark is thin and smooth on young trees, while mature trees display thin, scaly bark that is continually shed. Native to southwestern Oregon, California Coast Ranges, and lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada, California Laurel grows on steep mountain slopes, exposed ridges, coastal bluffs, and rocky outcrops, as well as in protected valleys, alluvial flats, deep canyons and ravines, and low hills. California Laurel occurs in diverse climates, ranging from the cool, humid conditions found in dense coastal forests to the hot, dry atmospheres found inland in open woodlands and chaparral. A handsome ornamental and street tree on the West Coast, California Laurel is the most valued hardwood species in the Western United States. The beautiful light brown wood with darker stalkless is used for veneer in furniture and paneling, cabinetwork, and interior trim. Incredibly adaptable, with few pests or diseases, California Laurel is also used for hedges, windbreaks, and indoor and outdoor ornamental evergreens.

  • Slowly grows up to 20-80 ft. tall (624 m) and 20-100 ft. wide (6-30 m). In gardens, California Laurel tends to grow slowly to 20-25 ft. tall and wide (600-750 cm).
  • A full sun to full shade lover, this plant is easily grown in a wide variety of deep, well-drained soils with regular water, but tolerates many other conditions including aridity.
  • Good choice for bank stabilization, hedges, Mediterranean gardens.
  • Low maintenance, it requires little pruning. Remove diseased, damaged, congested or crossing roots.
  • No serious pest or disease issues.
  • Propagate by seed or by semi-hardwood cuttings.
  • Native to California, Oregon.

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Requirements

Hardiness 7 – 9
Heat Zones 7 – 9
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 20' – 80' (6m – 24m)
Spread 20' – 100' (6m – 30m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Hedges and Screens, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Mediterranean Garden, Prairie and Meadow

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By guentermanaus, Shutterstock, 123rf

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 7 – 9
Heat Zones 7 – 9
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 20' – 80' (6m – 24m)
Spread 20' – 100' (6m – 30m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Attracts Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Hedges and Screens, Patio and Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Mediterranean Garden, Prairie and Meadow

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