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SPECIES:  Gordonia lasianthus
Loblolly bay. Image by John Ruter, University of Georgia,



SPECIES: Gordonia lasianthus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Coladonato, Milo. 1992. Gordonia lasianthus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 12 July 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: loblolly-bay to: loblolly bay. Images were also added. ABBREVIATION: GORLAS SYNONYMS: NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE: GOLA COMMON NAMES: loblolly bay holly bay gordonia bay TAXONOMY: The scientific name for loblolly bay is Gordonia lasianthus (L.) J. Ellis (Theacea) [10,25]. LIFE FORM: Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Gordonia lasianthus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Loblolly bay is distributed continuously along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from the Albermarle Sound of North Carolina to the Appalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle. Discontinuous populations exist in Florida, the coastal counties of Alabama, and southern Mississippi. In South Carolina it is common in the lower Coastal Plain but restricted to specific sites in the middle and upper Coastal Plain [1,6,9,12].
Distribution of loblolly bay. 1977 USDA, Forest Service map digitized by Thompson and others [26].

   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress

     AL  FL  GA  MS  NC  SC


   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest
   K114  Pocosin

    70  Longleaf pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    97  Atlantic white-cedar
    98  Pond pine
   100  Pondcypress
   104  Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay


Loblolly bay occurs in evergreen shrub-tree bogsd and bayheads, baldcypress 
(Taxodium distichum) swamps, and other and swamps [10,25].


SPECIES: Gordonia lasianthus
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE: Loblolly bay is slow growing, with soft, light-colored, fine-grained wood of little commercial value, although it could be managed as a source of pulpwood. Loblolly bay is also be used as fuel wood [12,24]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: White-tailed deer heavily browse the stump sprouts of loblolly bay [12]. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Loblolly bay has been used in riparian ecosystem restoration in central Florida [17]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: In the Southeast, loblolly bay is considered a handsome and hardy tree and valued as an ornamental. Extracts of its bark are used as a tanning agent [11,26]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Because of its ability to grow in bogs and wet flats where loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) does poorly, loblolly bay plantations may offer a management alternative for such areas [12].


SPECIES: Gordonia lasianthus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Loblolly bay is a small to medium-sized native, evergreen tree or shrub. It grows to about 65 feet (20 m) in height and has a narrow conical to columnar crown [10]. The simple leaves are alternate, leathery, and thick. The rough bark of mature trees is thin, interlaced with flat-topped ridges and separated by narrow furrows. The perfect, solitary flowers are axillary to close-set leaves on the current years twigs. The fruit is a hard, woody, five-valved capsule about 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) long with each valve containing four to eight flat, winged seeds. Loblolly bay has a large primary root with secondary roots branching downward [9,20,23,24].
Loblolly bay flower. Image by John Ruter, University of Georgia,


Seed production and dissemination:  Loblolly bay produces an abundance
of lightweight, winged seed.  Most of the seeds fall within a radius of
two to three times the height of the source tree.  Seeds are shaken out
of the capsules by the wind, and empty capsules remain attached until
peduncle and capsule abscission [6,12].

Seedling development:  Germination is epigeal.  Most loblolly bay
seedlings do not live past the first growing season; those that do show
slow initial growth.  By the end of the third growing season the
seedlings are about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) tall and by the eighth
growing season are 12 to 16 inches (30-40 cm) tall [12].

Vegetative reproduction:  Vegetative reproduction of first-year shoots
in a peat and sand medium under mist is commonly used by
horticulturists.  In the field, vegetative reproduction is more common
than regeneration from seed.  Stump sprouts may grow as much as 3 feet
(1 m) in the first year [12].

Loblolly bay grows in warm, wet, temperate climates with an average
annual precipitation of 64 inches (1,630 mm) in Florida to about 44
inches (1,120 mm) in North Carolina.  The species grows in acid, swampy
soils of pinelands and bays on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains.
Loblolly bay is found on several soil series.  It grows on certain
Spodosols, Inceptisols, Ultisols, and Histosols, and to a lesser degree
on Entisols and Mollisols.  Loblolly bay grows in flat woodlands or
shallow depressions with little or no slope, slow runoff, rapid
permeability, and poor to very poor drainage.  In South Carolina the
soils are usually of sandy coastal plain or marine origin, except for
the organic soils.  The water table is usually at or near the soil
surface from 6 to 9 months of the year [1,2,12,18].

Associated hardwoods include water oak (Quercus nigra), sweetgum
(Liquidambar styraciflua), American holly (Ilex opaca), red bay Persea
barbonia var. barbonia), and black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica).  Associated
shrubs include fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), inkberry (Ilex glabra),
greenbrier (Smilax spp.), southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), and swamp
cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora) [1,3,11,18].

Loblolly bay is classed as tolerant of shade.  In bays and wet flats
where tree cover is relatively light, loblolly bay is a strong
competitor [12,13,19].

Loblolly bay flowers from the last week in June to the first week in
July.  Flowers remain open for 1 or 2 days and are pollinated by bees,
flies, and hummingbirds.  After the second day, the sepals and petals
fall, leaving the ovary at the end of the peduncle.  As the ovaries
develop, they gradually turn brown and five sutures develop.  Mature
open capsules first appear during September or October, and all the
capsules open by the middle of December.  Seedfall starts in October,
peaks in December, and continues until early March [12].


SPECIES: Gordonia lasianthus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Loblolly bay is sensitive to fire. The thin bark and shallow root system contribute to its low fire tolerance. Loblolly bay has the ability to sprout from the root crown after being top-killed [4,5]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/root sucker


SPECIES: Gordonia lasianthus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire typically top-kills loblolly bay. Five major fires in 1954 and 1955 occurred in the Okefenokee Swamp during an extreme drought. In some areas the fires were severe enough to burn into the peat, completely killing all loblolly bay trees. Where only surface fires occurred, the larger top-killed trees sprouted from the root crown [4,5]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Loblolly bay sprouts from the root crown following fire [5,12]. Data pertaining to postfire density, frequency, or growth rates of loblolly bay following fire were not found in the literature. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Within swamp bay forests, three fires occurring within 60 or 70 years or a single, deep peat burn with a high postburn water table may produce open marsh areas or "prairies". These open areas provide important habitat for a number of wildlife species, including the sandhill crane, bitterns, rails, gallinules, the round-tailed muskrat, and waterfowl [5].

References for species: Gordonia lasianthus

1. Best, G. Ronnie; Segal, Debra S.; Wolfe, Charlotte. 1990. Soil-vegetation correlations in selected wetlands and uplands of north-central Florida. Biol. Rep. 90(9). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 51 p. [18161]
2. Brown, Randall B.; Stone, Earl L.; Carlisle, Victor W. 1990. Soils. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J., eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Press: 35-69. [17386]
3. Buford, Marilyn A.; Williams, Claire G.; Hughes, Joseph H. 1991. Growth and survival of Atlantic white-cedar on a South Carolina coastal plain site--first year results. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research conference: Volume 2; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 579-583. [17502]
4. Namkoong, G.; Roberds, J. H. 1974. Extinction probabilities and the changing age structure of redwood forests. The American Naturalist. 108(961): 355-368. [11081]
5. Cypert, Eugene. 1973. Plant succession on burned areas in Okefenokee Swamp following the fires of 1954 and 1955. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. Number 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 199-217. [8467]
6. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]
7. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
8. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]
9. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239]
10. Godfrey, Robert K.; Wooten, Jean W. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 933 p. [16907]
11. Gresham, Charles A. 1982. Biomass relations of Gordonia lasianthus, loblolly-bay. In: Baldwin, V. C., Jr.; Lohrey, R., eds. Proceedings, Southern forest biomass working group workshop; 1982 June 16-18; Alexandria, LA. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 81-87. [15862]
12. Gresham, Charles A.; Lipscomb, Donald J. 1990. Gordonia lasianthus (L.) Ellis loblolly-bay. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., tech. coords. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 365-369. [19444]
13. Johnson, A. Sydney; Hillestad, Hilburn O.; Shanholtzer, Sheryl Fanning; Shanholtzer, G. Frederick. 1974. An ecological survey of the coastal region of Georgia. Scientific Monograph Series No 3, NPS 116. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 233 p. [16102]
14. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384]
15. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
16. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496]
17. Manci, Karen M. 1989. Riparian ecosystem creation and restoration: a literature summary. Biol. Rep.89(20). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 60 p. [11757]
18. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. The American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847]
19. Penfound, William T. 1952. Southern swamps and marshes. The Botanical Review. 18: 413-446. [11477]
20. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
21. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]
22. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573]
23. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
24. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
25. Wunderlin, Richard P.; Hansen, Bruce F. 2003. Guide to the vascular plants of Florida. 2nd edition. Gainesville, FL: The University of Florida Press. 787 p. [69433]
26. Thompson, Robert S.; Anderson, Katherine H.; Bartlein, Patrick J. 1999. Digital representations of tree species range maps from "Atlas of United States trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. (and other publications). In: Atlas of relations between climatic parameters and distributions of important trees and shrubs in North America. Denver, CO: U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services (Producer). On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [92575]

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