Florida Forestry Information
The Tea Family
The tea family includes 16 genera and about 75 species of plants, mostly evergreens.  The majority of these are indigenous to eastern Asia.  Commercial tea is the dried leaves of Thea sinensis and some of its genetically improved varieties.  Camellias, a common ornamental tree planted in the south is a member of this family.  The trees and shrubs of this family have large pink, purplish, or white blossoms and attractive foliage.  One of these trees, Gordonia lasianthus is indigenous to Florida.   
 Click on the links below for an introduction to a tree of this family:
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Gordonia lasianthus 
loblolly bay, photo by Chris DemersHabit 

Loblolly-bay is an attractive evergreen tree, 60-70 feet in height, 12-18 inches in diameter.  It ascending branches forming a narrow, ovoid crown.  On sterile soil, it is a low, sprawling shrub. 

Leaves are simple, alternate, leathery, and persistent.  The leaves are 4-6 inches long, 1.5-2 inches wide, elliptical-shaped, with an acute apex.  Leaf bases are wedge-shaped.  Leaf margins are finely or obscurely toothed above the middle of the leaf blade.  Leaf surfaces are dark green above, paler below, often with scattered, woolly hairs.  Petioles are 1/2 inch long, grooved above and winged toward the tip. 
The flowers of this tree are perfect, solitary, white, about 2-3 inches wide, fragrant, and long-stalked. 
Fruit is a woody, ovoid, hairy capsule, about 3/4 inch long, on a stalk.  At maturity it splits along 5 lines to below the middle.  Seeds are very small and winged. 

The twigs are moderately stout and dark brown.  The pith is homogeous. 

The bark is thick, dark, reddish-brown, deeply furrowed, ridges scaly. 

The loblolly-bay grows best in swamps, bays, and in the wet conditions of the pine barrens of the coastal plains.  It is found from southern coastal Virginia, south the to central Florida; west to Louisiana. 

The wood of this tree has been used locally for cabinetry.  The bark contains suitable compounds for use in tanning.  Despite its attractive foliage and flowers, it is seldom used as an ornamental. 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
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