Fragrant Bay Tree
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Fragrant Bay Tree
ative Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Fragrant Bay Tree • Nepali: सेतो कौलो Seto Kaulo • Mizo: Bulfek
Botanical name: Machilus odoratissima    Family: Lauraceae (Laurel family)
Synonyms: Persea odoratissima

Fragrant Bay Tree grows up to 16 m tall and 90 cm in trunk diameter. Bark is dark grey. Branchlets are hairless smooth. Terminal bud large with many glabrous, somewhat fimbriate, bud scales. Leaves are smooth, leathery, lancelike to oblong-oblanceolate to elliptic-oblong, 2.5-7 cm wide and 7.5-18 cm long, acute or acuminate, base shortly acute or rounded. Both surfaces are microscopically pitted. Leaf stalks are slender, 1-2 cm long. Yellow flowers are borne in many-flowered panicles almost at the end of branches, up to 12 cm long. Flowers are 6-10 mm across, with 4-5 mm long stalks. Petals are oblong-linear sharp-tipped petals. Stamens slightly shorter, filaments pilose near the base. Fruit ellipsoid, up to 7 x 15 mm, sepals reflexed, oblong, 8 mm long; pedicels thick, often pinkish. Ripe fruit is purple. Leaves which have a pleasant orange smell, are used for silkworm cultivation. The leaves are collected as fodder for domesticated animals while the bark is used as a red dye. The wood of the trunk is burned as firewood, and the better sections are used in house construction and for furniture. Fragrant Bay Tree is found in the Himalayas at altitudes of 1500-2100 m. Hence visible in various hill station in north India. Flowering: March-April.

Identification credit: Navendu Pāgé Photographed in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.

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