WSU Clark County Extension

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California Bay Laurel

Scientific name: Umbellularia californica

Type:Evergreen trees
Plant Requirements
Zone:7 to 9
Sun:Full sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:70 ft
Width:25 ft
Bloom:Spring flowers
Bloom Time:April to May
Bloom Color:Yellow
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description California Bay Laurel is best known as a native tree which grows along the Pacific Ocean from southwest Oregon, south along the Coast Range, and into the Sierra Nevada mountains. In southwest Oregon it is called Oregon Myrtle and is prized for its hard wood used for wood working.

This a Northwest native tree which can attain a height of up to 70’ and a width of 25’ (wider in the shade). In full sun it is a smaller gum-drop shaped shrub. It bears evergreen, simple, alternate leaves, which are elliptical to lance-shaped and 2”-5” long. The leaves are thickened and shiny green. The leaves are very aromatic. This species is not the one used in cooking.

Small creamy white flowers (umbels; hence the Genus name). Flowers give rise to 1” long round to elliptical purple fruit in the fall.

The wood is very hard and fine. Left un-dried it is used in spoons and bowls. The products are sold all along the southern Oregon Coast.

California bay grows best in full sun to part shade and can adapt to several climatic zones. Water is not required once established.

The California Bay is the primary foliar host for Sudden Oak Death (SOD).
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
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