Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Persea borbonia


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Van Deelen, Timothy R. 1991. Persea borbonia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : PERBOR SYNONYMS : Tamala borbonia (L.) Raf. Tamala pubescens (Pursh) Small SCS PLANT CODE : PEBO PEBOH PEBOP COMMON NAMES : redbay silkbay shorebay scrub-bay swampbay TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for redbay is Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng. (Lauraceae). Morphological variety complicates redbay taxonomy. Three varieties, also regarded as separate species, are distinguished based on habitat differences and the morphology of the hair on the undersides of the leaves: P. b. var. borbonia - typical variety P. b. var. humilis (Nash) Kopp [P. humulis Nash] - commonly known as silkbay; distinguished from the typical variety by especially dense hair [12]; restricted to the oak (Quercus spp.)-pine (Pinus spp.) scrub of peninsular Florida [4]. P. b. var. pubescens (Pursh) Little [P. palustris (Raf.) Sarg.] - commonly known as swampbay; distinguished from the type by crooked hair [13] and an affinity for swampy areas [12,20]. This review follows Little [29] and Kartesz and Kartesz [22] who favor three varieties. There are no recognized subspecies or forms. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Redbay grows on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains and in peninsular Florida. Its range extends from southern Deleware to southern Texas. It also grows in the Bahamas [5,12,20]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [46]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : AL DE FL GA HI LA MD MS NC SC TX VA BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K080 Marl - everglades K091 Cypress savanna K092 Everglades K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin SAF COVER TYPES : 74 Cabbage palmetto 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 97 Atlantic white-cedar 98 Pond pine 100 Pondcypress 101 Baldcypress 102 Baldcypress - tupelo 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Redbay is common in pocosins [10,30], forested wetlands [1], mixed hardwood swamps [38,40], and Mississippi pitcher-plant (Sarrecenia spp.) bogs [16]. In the drier Big Thicket area of eastern Texas, it sometimes grows on upland longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas [6,33] and poorly drained sites where mesic vegetation form localized patches in a more xeric landscape [41]. Redbay is a principal associate in the Okefenokee Swamp [8], a dominant in Cumberland Island understories [10], and common in the Great Dismal Swamp [44] and Big Cypress Swamp [11]. Red bay dominates many everglades tree islands [30,40] and cypress dome [40] understories. It is occasional in the understories of high hammocks [2] but a major component in low hammocks. When seen from the air, southern Florida low hammocks have a characteristic redbay-dominated tail which extends downstream in the direction of the everglade's flow [15]. Some southern Florida tree islands are so dominated by redbay, sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), and loblolly-bay (Gordonia lasianthus) that they are known as "bayheads" [23]. Overstory associates include red maple (Acer rubrum) [36], cabbage palmetto (Sabel palmetto) [39], spruce pine (Pinus glabra) [25], slash pine (P. elliottii) [17], loblolly pine (P. taeda) [3], sand pine (P. clausa) [4], southern redcedar (Juniperus silicicola), loblolly-bay, cassena (Ilex cassine), titi (Cyrilla racemiflora) [8], sweetbay, and Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) [24]. Understory associates include hurrahbush (Lyonia lucida), swamp fetterbush (Leucothoe racemosa), sweetspire (Itea virginica), poor-man's soap (Clethra alnifolia), coral greenbriar (Smilax Walteri), and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) [8,23]. Wells [42] cited redbay as a dominant in his classification system of Coastal Plain community types.


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Redbay wood is heavy, hard, strong, and bright red with thin, light-colored sapwood. It is used locally for cabinetwork, interior finishing, and boat building [5]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Wild turkeys and many songbirds eat redbay fruit [5]. The northern bobwhite eats red bay seeds, especially during the winter [5,27]. White-tailed deer and black bears eat the foliage and fruit of redbay. Redbay can sustain browsing of up to 40 percent of its current annual growth [5]. In otherwise pure stands of even-age pine in southern Alabama, redbay-dominated "stringers" provide essential habitat for gray squirrels [18]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Lay [28] listed nutrient percentage values of redbay browse collected in winter as follows: Protein Fat Fiber N-free Ash Phosphoric Calcium extract acid 6.98 3.25 29.5 43.1 2.17 0.14 0.31 These levels are low for protein, deficient for phosphoric acid, but high for calcium [28]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Redbay seedlings can be used in wetlands and phosphate mine reclamation [32]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Redbay leaves are a good substitute for those of tropical bay (Persea spp.), which are used as a food seasoning [5]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : The wildlife habitat value of southern pine plantations can be increased by allowing redbay to grow along intermittent streams [18]. Redbay is very resistant to insects and fungal disease [30].


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Redbay's growth habit varies over its range [5]. It usually grows as a medium-sized tree, commonly shrubby, up to 45 feet (15 m) tall [13,20]. Occasionally, old trees may reach a d.b.h. of 3 feet (1 m), with a large crown [20]. In southern Florida hammocks, redbay grows branched and crooked, seldom achieving tree form [15]. Redbay leaves are alternate, simple, evergreen, and aromatic [13]. Stomatal characteristics suggest adaptation for water conservation [14]. Redbay flowers are perfect, small, cymes [5,12]. Annually produced fruits are drupes which turn black or blue as they ripen [5]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : The primary mode of regeneration for redbay is sexual. The flowers are insect- and wind-pollinated. Songbirds, wild turkeys, northern bobwhites, black bears, and white-tailed deer disperse seeds. Natural stands of redbay are patchy and diffuse due to overstory competition [5]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Redbay soils are frequently Histosols consisting of a thick layer of peat [15,36], a sandy-humis, or an organic muck [36]. When layered over the Everglades' marl these soils may be basic [15], although throughout most of redbay's range these soils are acidic [36]. The soils are infertile [7] and provide poor mechanical support [5]. The climate throughout redbay's range is warm-temperate to subtropical. The frost-free period is usually greater than 250 days per year and normal temperatures range from 100 to 10 degrees F (38-minus 12 deg C). Mean annual rainfall is between 52 and 64 inches (1,020 and 1,630 mm) and is well distributed seasonally [5]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Redbay is a late-seral species. It is shade tolerant but also grows well in the open in both young and old stands [5]. Redbay is a climax associate in Daubenmire's [9] southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)-live oak (Quercus virginiana) type and dominates swamp forest [43] and cedar [34] understories in the absence of disturbance. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Redbay flowers between April and May [12], and its fruit ripens during August and September [38].


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : The postfire survival of redbay apparently depends on fire intensity. After moderate-severity fire which top-kills only small-diameter redbay, redbay stands persist through sprouting and the survival of large individuals [7]. Severe fire may eliminate all age classes. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree without adventitious-bud root crown


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Aromatic leaves and a dense, shrubby growth form [7] favor intense fires in redbay stands. Most fires probably kill or at least top-kill redbay, since it appears to survive only moderate-severity fires. Those individuals that survive fire may experience delayed mortality because of fire-related scarring and stem deterioration [5]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : NO-ENTRY DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Redbay should be protected from fire [27] or subjected only to low-severity prescribed fires [13] where wildlife habitat maintenance is a goal. Atlantic white-cedar production may benefit from frequent fires which reduce redbay competition [9,34]. Consult Hough [21] to predict potential heat release when burning in redbay stands.


SPECIES: Persea borbonia
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