Saturday 18 May
Chilean laurel (Laurelia sempervirens)
Chilean laurel fact file
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Chilean laurel description
The Chilean laurel (Laurelia sempervirens) is a large, evergreen tree with smooth, pale bark that cracks with age, coming off in roughly circular plates (5) (6). Both the wood and the leaves are strongly aromatic (4) (5) (6). The bright green leaves of the Chilean laurel are arranged in opposite pairs, and are oblong in shape, narrowed at the base. The leaves are leathery in texture, shiny, and around 5 to 10 centimetres long and 2.5 to 5 centimetres wide (4) (5) (6). The gently serrated edges help distinguish this tree from the closely related Laureliopsis (Laurelia) philippiana, which has more deeply toothed leaf margins (7).
- Also known as
- Chilean sassafras, trihue.
- Laurelia aromatica. Top
Enciclopedia de la Flora Chilena (in Spanish):
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- A plant which retains leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous plants, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
- The reproductive shoot of a plant which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
- Hoffmann, J.A.E. (1997) Flora Silvestre de Chile, Zona Araucana. Árboles, Arbustos y Enredaderas Leñosas. El Mercurio S.A.P., Santiago de Chile.
- Chester, S. (2008) A Wildlife Guide to Chile. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Enciclopedia de la Flora Chilena (February, 2009)
- Hillier, J. and Coombes, A. (2007) The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs. David and Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon.
- Donoso, C., Premoli, A., Gallo, L. and Ipinza, R. (2004) Variación Intraespecífica en las Especies Arbóreas de los Bosques Templados de Chile y Argentina. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, Chile.
- Gut, B. (2008) Trees in Patagonia. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Chileflora.com (February, 2009)
- Riedemann Moellinghoff, P. and Aldunate Noël, G. (2003) Flora Native de Valor Ornamental. Chile, Zona Sur. Identificación y Propogación. Editorial Andrés Bello, Santiago de Chile.
- Muñoz, O., Montes, M. and Wilkomirsky, T. (2004) Plantas Medicinales de Uso en Chile: Química y Farmacología. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, Chile.
- Seidemann, J. (2005) World Spice Plants: Economic Usage, Botany, Taxonomy. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
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Chilean laurel biology
The Chilean laurel flowers between October and November (4). The small, greenish-white flowers are borne on inflorescences of between 5 and 20 flowers, and are usually unisexual (containing either male or female reproductive organs), although both male and female flowers occur on the same tree (4) (5) (6). Fruiting takes places between January and February (4), the fruit consisting of a small, green, woody capsule, around 1.5 to 2.5 centimetres in length, containing a single seed. The seed of the Chilean laurel is oval or spindle-shaped, and covered in short hairs (4) (6).Top
Chilean laurel rangeTop
Chilean laurel habitatTop
Chilean laurel status
The Chilean laurel is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Chilean laurel threats
The wood of the Chilean laurel is used for cabinets and furniture (3) (9) and as timber in construction, and the flowers, leaves and bark are used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions from colds to headaches (1) (4) (8) (10). The species is also used to dye wool a greenish colour (4), and the fruits and seeds are reported to be used as a spice, known as Chilean nutmeg (11). As a result of these uses, the Chilean laurel may be under threat from overexploitation in the north of its range (1).Top
Chilean laurel conservation
There are no known conservation measures currently in place for the Chilean laurel. It is not thought to be globally threatened (1), but, especially considering its somewhat restricted distribution, the species may benefit from further monitoring to ensure it does not suffer too heavily from overexploitation in the future.Top
Find out more
Read more about the Chilean laurel and other plant species in Chile:
Authenticated (27/09/09) by Dr Bernardo Gut.Top
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