Monday, April 21, 2008
California Bay Laurel
Another native evergreen tree, Umbellularia californica leaves are pungently aromatic, similar smelling but stronger than the mediterranean Bay Laurel used in cooking. I've read conflicting reports about whether the nuts were ever eaten, but these days the fresh leaves are popularly used, crushed, in sweater drawers to repel moths. Unfortunately, the California Bay is a prime host of Sudden Oak Death, a disease that can do serious damage to its arboreal cohorts. I'm suspicious of the dark spots seen here on a young tree along Route 20 just west of town.