Herb: Red Bay


Latin name: Persea borbonia


Family: Lauraceae (Laurel Family)



Medicinal use of Red Bay:

Red bay was widely employed medicinally by the Seminole Indians who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially as an emetic and body cleanser. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The leaves are abortifacient, analgesic, antirheumatic, appetizer, emetic and febrifuge. An infusion can be used to abort a foetus up to the age of four months. An infusion is also used in treating fevers, headaches, diarrhoea, thirst, constipation, appetite loss and blocked urination. A strong decoction is emetic and was used as a body purification when treating a wide range of complaints. A decoction of the leaves is used externally as a wash on rheumatic joints and painful limbs.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
15 m
(49 feet)

Flovering:
April
to May

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy to rich moist soils of low woodlands, coastal forests, along the sides of bogs, streams and swamps. Sometimes found in dry sandy areas in Florida.

Edible parts of Red Bay:

The fresh or dried leaves can be used as a flavouring in soups etc.

Other uses of the herb:

Wood - hard, heavy, close-grained, very strong, rather brittle. It weighs 40lb per cubic foot. The wood works well and is suitable for interior uses such as cabinets, but trees with large straight trunks are not sufficiently common to make the tree of commercial interest.

Propagation of Red Bay:

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first 2 winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sandy to rich moist soils of low woodlands, coastal forests, along the sides of bogs, streams and swamps. Sometimes found in dry sandy areas in Florida.

Known hazards of Persea borbonia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.