Persea borbonia

Common Name: redbay 
Type: Tree
Family: Lauraceae
Native Range: Bahamas, southern United States
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Light yellow-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Wet Soil


Best grown in rich, evenly moist to wet, acidic, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of salt spray and a wide range of growing conditions including drier soils and some drought once established. Hardy in Zones 7b(5°F)-11.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Persea borbonia, commonly called redbay, is an evergreen tree or large shrub native to the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains of the southeastern United States where it is found growing in coastal forests, bog margins, forested swamps, and other consistently moist, lowland, mesic habitats. Mature plants will reach around 50' tall with a similar spread and a dense, oval to rounded canopy, but may take on a shorter, more shrubby form in certain habitats. The reddish brown, furrowed bark can be quite showy on older specimens. The fragrant, elliptic to ovate, glossy foliage will reach around 3-6" long and 0.75-2" wide. Small clusters of inconspicuous, light yellow-green flowers bloom from late spring into early summer and are followed by 0.5" wide, oval-shaped drupes which mature from green to dark blue or black. The fruits tend to persist on the tree well into winter and are an important food source for birds including quail, turkey, and many songbirds. Redbay is a larval food source for the spicebush swallowtail, Palamedes swallowtail, and the endangered Schaus swallowtail which is endemic to Florida.

Genus name comes from the Greek name persea for an Egyptian tree (Cordia myxa).

The specific epithet borbonia honors Gaston Jean-Baptiste de Bourbon, Duke of Orléans (1606-1660) who was known for creating gardens and collecting plants at his palace in Blois, France.


Susceptible to laurel wilt. Leaf disfiguration from psyllid galls is common but does not typically cause lasting damage. Twig borers, scales, and aphids can be problematic, especially for young plants with large infestations. Branches are prone to breaking in strong winds. Weak branch unions combined with fruit and twig drop make this tree best sited away from driveways, sidewalks, or other high traffic areas.


Specimen or accent tree. Allow to naturalize in low, wet areas.