Trees and shrubs aromatic, mostly with alternate, simple, punctate leaves. Flowers with a colored perianth of 4 to 6 slightly united, strongly imbricated sepals.
Genera 50, species 450, chiefly natives of the Tropics.
Properties. - The species of this highly important order are throughout pervaded by a warm and stimulant aromatic oil. Cinnamon is the dried bark of Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, of Ceylon, etc. Camphor is obtained from many trees of this order, but chiefly from Camphora officinarum, of Japan, China, etc. Cassia Bark, from Cinnamoinum aromaticum, of China. Persea gratissimn, ft tree of the W. Indies, yields a delicious fruit called the Avocado pear. Some of the following species are also moderately medicinal. The classic Laurel is Laurens nobilis of S. Europe.
§ Flowers perfect, the calyx persistent. Leaves evergreen.......................
§ Flowers declinous. Calyx deciduous. Leaves deciduous. (*)
* Involucre none. Anthers 4-celled, 4-valved. Lvs. lobed..................
* Involucre 4-leaved. Anthers 2-cellcd, 2-valved. Leaves entire.........
* Involucre 4-leaved. Anthers 4-celled, 4-valved. Leaves entire.....
i. PER'SEA, Gaert. Red Bay. Bay Galls. Flowers perfect, umbellate, with no involucre; calyx of 6 sepals persistent in fruit; stamens 12, the 3 inner sterile, reduced to mere glands, anthers 4-celled (2 cells above and 2 below); drupe oval, seated on the persistent calyx, containing 1 large seed. - Trees evergreen, the fls. in axillary, pedicellate umbels.
P. Caroliniensis Mx. Lvs. oblong-lanceolate or oblanceolate, acute or pointed at each end, coriaceous, entire, glaucous beneath; umbels simple or compound, on long peduncles; sep. coriaceous, velvety, the 3 outer smaller; drupe oval, blue. Va. to Fla, in swamps. A tree 30 or 40f high, with a deeply furrowed bark and coarse branches; but more commonly in poor soils a stinted shrub rilling the sandy swamps. Lvs. evergreen, about 6' by 18", attenuated to a short petiole. Drupe 5" by 4". Ap, May. - Wood of a fine rose-color, once used in cabinet-work.
2. SAS'SAFRAS, Nees. Sassafras. (Spanish, salsafras, saxifrage; from the supposed resemblance of properties.) Dioecious; involucre 0; calyx 6-parted, equal, deciduous; stamens 9, in 3 rows, the inner with a pair of stipitate glands at the base of each; anther 4-celled;
stamens 6, imperfect; ovary ovoid, acuminate; style short, stigma capitate; drupe ovoid, on a fleshy pedicel. - Trees deciduous, with the fls. yellow in terminal clusters appearing before the leaves. (Laurus, L.)
S. officinale Nees. Lvs. of two forms, ovate and entire, or 3-lobed and cuneate at base; fls, in terminal and axillary, corymbous racemes, with linear bracts. - U.
S. and Can. An interesting shrub or small tree, 10 to 20f high. Leaves alternate, petioled, those of the young shoots ovate-lanceolate, others with 3 large lobes. Fls. greenish-yellow, in clustered racemes at the end of the last year's twigs; drupe blue. Apr. - Jn. Every part of the tree has a pleasant fragrance, and a sweetish, aromatic taste, which is strongest in the bark of the root.
3. BENZO'IN, Nees. Spice Wood. (Named for its fragrances which is compared to that of the resinous substance, benzoin.) Flowers dioecious with 4 involucrate scales; calyx 5 to 6-parted; stamens 9, in 3 rows, the inner lobed and gland-bearing at base; anthers 2-celled;
stamens 15 to 18, sterile, filiform; drupe obovoid, on a pedicel not thickened. - Trees or shrubs with entire, deciduous lvs. and small, lateral clusters of yellow fls. preceding the lvs.
1 B. odoriferum Nees. Lvs. obovate-lanceolate, veinless, entire, deciduous; fls. in clustered umbels; buds and pedicels smooth. - A shrub 6 to 12f high, in moist woods, U. S. and Can. Lvs. cuneiform and acute at base, 2 to 4' long, half as wide, paler beneath. Fls. pedicellate, in small, sessile umbels, 4 or 5 from each bud. Drupes red. May. (Lauras Benzoin, L.)
2 B. mellissaefolium Nees. Lvs. oblong-lanceolate, abrupt or cordate at base, veiny, pubescent beneath; fls. in clustered umbels; buds and pedicels villous. - Borders of shallow ponds or exsiccated swamps, S. States. Shrub 2 to 3f high, with running roots and virgate shoots. Lvs. with prominent veins. Fls. about 3 from each bud. Drupes red. Feb., March. (Lauras mellissaefolia Walt.)
4. TETRAN'THERA, Jacq. Pond Spice. (Gr. four-fold, flowery; four flowers in the umbel.) Flowers dioecious, in little stalked umbels, with a 4 or 5-leaved deciduous involucre; calyx 5 or C-partcd, deciduous; stamens 9, in 3 rows; anthers unequally celled (2 cells above and 2 below); stamens 12 to 15 rudiments; stigma dilated, 2-lobed, smooth; drupe naked. - Lvs. deciduous. Fls. yellow, appearing before the lvs.
T. geniculata Nees. Branches divaricate and geniculate; lvs. small, oblong and oval, nearly smooth, cuneate at base, mostly obtuse at apex; umbellets terminal, glabrous, on distinct pedicels. - In sandy swamps, borders of lagoons, Va. to Fla. Shrub 8 to 15f high, with branches and branchlets remarkably crooked and straggling forming an angle of 90° at every fork. Lvs. 1' to 18" long, 5 to 8" wide. Drapes red. Feb., Mar. (Lauras geniculata Walt.)