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California Laurel
Umbellularia californica
  
About California Laurel (Umbellularia californica) 33 Nurseries Carry This Plant Bay Laurel is an evergreen tree in the Lauraceae family that is native to coastal forests of California at elevations from 0-5000 feet. It is found throughout the Klamath Range, Coast Ranges, Transverse Range and Sierra foothills and is especially numerous between Sonoma and Santa Cruz Countis. It is an attractive tree of variable size, from a 6 ft. shrub to 60 ft. in height, but most often in the 20 ft. to 45 ft. range. Ultimate size and speed of growth depend largely on local conditions. Its bark has a color range from maple blonde to walnut brown. It releases terpenes that kill off competing plants which can somewhat limit understory planting. Leaves are oblong, smooth-edged and have a peppery aroma, and are often used as a cooking spice. They sometimes turn a spectacular golden color during the autumn in northern California. Flowers are small, white, yellow or yellowish green, and open in late winter and early spring. The fruit is a round green berry lightly spotted with yellow and purple. It is one of the few garden trees that tolerates serpentine or clay soils.

Here's a great video about this plant from the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley...
https://youtu.be/DiEmBnjj1OU
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Tree

Size
Size
6 - 80 ft tall
3 - 30 ft wide

Form
Form
Upright, Rounded

Growth Rate
Growth Rate
Moderate

Dormancy
Dormancy
Evergreen

Fragrance
Fragrance
Fragrant - Pleasant

Flower Color
Flower Color
Yellow, Cream, White, Green

Flowering Season
Flowering Season
Spring

Wildlife Supported
 
Numerous insects and birds are attracted to the flowers and fruits.

 
Butterflies & moths hosted ( 1 confirmed , 3 likely * ) SHOW ALL

Landscaping Information
Sun
Sun
Full Sun, Part Shade

Moisture
Moisture
Low

Summer Irrigation
Summer Irrigation
Max 3x / month once established

Nurseries
Nurseries

Ease of Care
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Cold Tolerance
Cold Tolerance
Tolerates cold to 10° F

Soil Drainage
Soil Drainage
Medium, Slow

Soil Description
Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils including clay and serpentine. Tolerates Serpentine Soil. Soil PH: 5.0 - 8.0

Common uses
Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant

Companion Plants
Companion Plants
It releases terpenes that kill off competing plants which can somewhat limit understory planting. California Wild Grape (Vitis californica) is said to work well in the understory. Compatible trees/shrubs include Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.), Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), Ceanothus sp., California Coffeeberry (Frangula californica), Silk Tassel (Garrya elliptica or fremontii), Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus), Yellow Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Oak (Quercus sp.), and Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Sunset Zones
Sunset Zones?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
Coastal forests, creek sides, foothills, canyons

Climate
Climate
Annual Precipitation: 10.0" - 141.0", Summer Precipitation: 0.14" - 4.96", Coldest Month: 24.6" - 56.0", Hottest Month: 45.5" - 83.3", Humidity: 0.01" - 34.12", Elevation: 3" - 11310"

Alternative Names
Common Names: California Bay Tree, Oregon Myrtle


Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora


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