Umbellularia californica

 

this page uses English units of measure

click here to view the file in metric units

 

Family: Lauraceae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

click to print or download the file in .pdf format

 

California Laurel

 

 

 

Umbellularia californica is the only species in this genus. Its name is derived from the Latin umbellula, a small umbel, describing the flower cluster (inflorescence).

Umbellularia californica-Acacia, Acacia Burl, Balm-of-heaven, Bay, Bay Laurel, Bay Tree, Black Laurel, Black Myrtle, Cajeput, Cajeput-tree, California Bay, California Bay Tree, California Laurel, California Olive, California Sassafras, Californian Olive, Laurel, Mountain Hemlock, Mountain Laurel, Myrtle, Myrtle Tree, Myrtly, Oregon Mirt, Oregon Myrtle, Oreodaphne, Pacific Myrtle, Peppermintwood, Pepperwood, Spice Tree, White Laurel, White Myrtle, Yellow Laurel, Yellow Myrtle

 

Distribution

Pacific coast region of southwest Oregon, south mostly in Coast Ranges to southern California and in the Sierra Nevada to central California.

 

The Tree

This tree grows to 80 feet in height and 3 feet in diameter. California Laurel grows at elevations from sea level to over 6,000 feet. It is tolerant of various soil types and conditions, and grows in many habitats from flatlands to mountain slopes, the best conditions being alluvial deposits from streams and rivers. It grows in association with coastal redwood, sequoia, Port Orford cedar and Douglas fir. They are slow growing and have multiple trunks in poorer soils. The leaves are used by spice companies as "bay" leaves. The leaves are evergreen and glossy, while the flowers are small and yellowish green in color. It produces spherical purplish fruits. This species is planted as an ornamental shrub in warmer climates of the south & west. The small twigs are pale green, turning reddish brown over time. The bark is a dark red brown and sometimes an inch thick.

 

The Wood

General

The sapwood of California Laurel is thick and whitish to light brown, while the heartwood is light brown to grayish brown to an olive color, with dark streaks. The wood has a strong, spicy odor. It darkens when soaked in water.

Mechanical Properties (2-inch standard)

 

 

 

 

Compression

 

 

 

 

Specific

gravity

MOE

x106 lbf/in2

MOR

lbf/in2

Parallel

lbf/in2

Perpendicular

lbf/in2

WMLa

in-lbf/in3

Hardness

lbf

Shear

lbf/in2

Green

0.51

0.72

6,600

3,020

800

16.8

1000

1,270

Dry

0.55

0.94

8,000

5,640

1,400

8.2

1270

1,860

aWML = Work to maximum load.

Reference (59).

 

 

 

Drying and Shrinkage

Type of shrinkage

Percentage of shrinkage
(green to final moisture content)

0% MC

6% MC

20% MC

Tangential

8.1

6.8

2.8

Radial

2.8

2.3

1.0

Volumetric

11.9

9.9

4.1

References: 0% MC (59),
6% and 20% MC (90).

Kiln Drying Schedulesa

 

Stock

Condition

4/4, 5/4, 6/4

8/4

10/4

12/4

16/4

Standard

T6-A4?

T5-A3

aReferences (6, 86).

Working Properties: California Laurel is easily worked and takes a high polish.

Durability: The heartwood is very durable.

Preservation: No information available at this time.

Uses: Veneer (burls for cabinetry), novelties, candle sticks, bowls, plates, woodenware, turnery, furniture squares, cabinetwork, interior trim, used under the keel to launch ships.

Toxicity: Can be an irritant (64 & 105)

Additional Reading and References Cited (in parentheses)

6. Boone, R.S.; Kozlik, C.J.; Bois, P.J.; Wengert, E.M. 1988. Dry kiln schedules for commercial woods-temperate and tropical. Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-57. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.

29. Elias, T.S. 1980. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. New York: van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

55. Little, Jr., E.L. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. U.S. Government Printing Office.

59. Markwardt, L.J.; Wilson, T.R.C. 1935. Strength and related properties of woods grown in the United States. Tech. Bull. 479. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. U.S. Government Printing Office.

64. Mitchell, J.; Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology: plants and plant products injurious to the skin. Vancouver, BC: Greenglass Ltd.

68. Panshin, A.J.; de Zeeuw, C. 1980. Textbook of wood technology, 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.

74. Record, S.J.; Hess R.W. 1943. Timbers of the new world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

86. Simpson, W.T. 1991. Dry kiln operator's manual. Ag. Handb. 188. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.

90. Summitt, R.; Sliker, A. 1980. CRC handbook of materials science. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc. Vol. 4.

105. Woods, B.; Calnan, C.D. 1976. Toxic woods. British Journal of Dermatology. 95(13): 1-97.