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Plants of the UNF Campus

Persea borbonia - Upland red bay
Family Lauraceae


About one hundred fifty species of Persea are native to warm areas around the world. They are shrubs and trees. Around the world, the best known species of Persea is avocado, Persea americana. The upland red bay is native to the southeastern United States, including Jacksonville, where it found in a variety of conditions from dry to moist. The aromatic leaves have been substituted for bay leaves in cooking.It is similar to the swamp bay, Persea palustris, which is also native to north Florida. One difference between the two species is that the upland red bay has tiny hairs that lay flat on the underside of the leaf while the swamp red bay has tiny upright hairs on the lower surface of the leaf. The larvae of palamedes swallowtails feed on the leaves of the red bays and the closely related sassafras.


See this plant in natural areas throughout campus.


A large tree with the potential to reach seventy feet tall.

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun

Water: moderately drought tolerant once established, tolerates moist sites

Soil: a well-drained soil, no other special requirements

The red bay is not commonly cultivated in northeast Florida, possibly because of its suseptibility to foliage pests. Existing plants in the landscape can make attractive landscape specimens.


A new problem for red bays appeared recently. Reportedly, a new fungus is causing the sudden deaths of red bays and sassafras. The fungus is moved from tree to tree by a recently introduced borer beetle from Asia. The threat of this new problem is not yet fully understood.