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Plants of the UNF Campus

Persea palustris - Swamp 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 swamp red bay is native to the southeastern United States, including Jacksonville, where it found in swamps and along waterways. It is an evergreen tree. The aromatic leaves have been substituted for bay leaves in cooking.It is similar to the upland red bay, Persea borbonia, which is also native to north Florida. One difference between the two species is that the swamp red bay has tiny upright hairs on the lower surface of the leaf while the upland red bay has similar tiny hairs that lay flat against the leaf. The larvae of palamedes swallowtails feed on the leaves of the red bays and the closely related sassafras.


See plants in moist, natural areas around campus, such as the Lake Okneida nature trails.


Large tree with the potential to reach seventy feet tall.

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun to part shade

Water: moist sites

Soil: a moist soil, no other special requirements

The swamp 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 with red bays appeared in northeast Florida 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.