A fairly uncommon shrubby tree best known for its use as a culinary spice. Many parts of the plant contain essential oils that are reminiscent of the bay leaf.
A small, evergreen tree growing to 15-20 feet. Leaves are leathery and elongated in shape, growing up to 3". They are distinct in having a blue-green coloration to their undersides. Flowers are small, white-green in color. Fruits are small, at most 1/2" across and ripen to a deep purple-black. There are supposedly a handful of varieties or variants of this species, though minimal attention seems to be given to propagating select types.
Hardy to short frosts. Minimum hardiness is not known.
Grows well in full or filtered sun. Makes a good candidate for container culture.
By seeds and cuttings.
The plant is used as a spice, notably as a substitute for bay (Laurus nobilis). Its culinary use is mainly confined to Mexico, where it has attained popularity in a number of regions there.
Native to Southern Mexico, mainly Chiapas, Veracruz, Tepic, and Tamaulipas as well as parts of Central America.