This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs (some Asiatic species trees), with alternate entire pinnately veined and in our species deciduous leaves, and dioecious or polygamous yellow flowers, in lateral sessile invo-lucrate clusters unfolding before the leaves, the involucre of 4 deciduous scales. Calyx-segments 6, equal, deciduous. Staminate flowers with 3 series of 3 stamens, the filaments of the inner series lobed and gland-bearing at the base, those of the 2 outer series glandless; anthers all introrse, 2-celled, 2-valved. Pistillate flowers with 12-18 staminodia and a globose ovary. Fruit an obovoid or oblong red drupe. [Named from the Benzoin gum, from its similar fragrance.]
About 7 species, of eastern North America and Asia. Only the following are North American. Type species: Laurus Benzoin L.
Shrub glabrous or nearly so throughout; leaves narrowed at the base.
Twigs and lower surfaces of the leaves pubescent; leaves rounded or subcordate at the base.
Laurus aestivalis L. Sp. Pl. 370. 1753. Laurus Benzoin L. Sp. Pl. 370. 1753. Benzoin aestivale Nees, Syst. Laur. 495. 1836. Lindera Benzoin Blume, Mus. Bot. Lugd. 1: 324.
A glabrous or nearly glabrous shrub, 4°-20° high, with smooth bark and slender twigs. Leaves obovate oval or elliptic, 2'-5' long, 1'-2 1/2' wide, acute, short-acuminate or some of them rounded at the apex, narrowed at the base, pale beneath; petioles 3"-6" long; flowers about \\" broad, bright yellow, fragrant; pedicels about equalling the calyx-segments; anthers oval, minutely emarginate at the summit; ovary about as long as the style; drupe 4"-5" long, about 3" in diameter.
In moist woods, thickets and along streams, Maine and New Hampshire to Ontario, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kansas. March-May. Fruit ripe Aug.-Sept. Ascends to 2500 ft. in Virginia. Snap-wood or -weed. Feverbush. Wild allspice. Leaves of young shoots much larger.
Laurus melissaefolia Walt. Fl. Car. 134. 1788.
Lindera melissaefolia Blume, Mus. Bot. Lugd. 1: 324. 1857.
Benzoin melissaefolium Nees, Syst. 494. 1836.
A shrub similar to the preceding species but the young twigs, buds and lower surfaces of the leaves densely pubescent. Leaves ovate-lanceolate or oblong, acute or acuminate at the apex, rounded or subcordate at the base, 2-4' long, 9"-18" wide; petioles l" - 3" long; pedicels equalling or slightly longer than the calyx-segments; anthers truncate at the summit; drupe 3"-5" high.