A shrub from four to twenty feet high. Leaves. - Oval to broadly lance-shaped, from three to six inches long. Flowers. - White, two inches long, growing singly at the ends of the branches. Calyx. - Of three sepals. Corolla. - Globular, with from six to nine broad petals. Stamens. - Numerous, with short filaments and long anthers. Pistils. - Many, packed so as to make a sort of cone in fruit. Fruit. - Cone-like, red, fleshy when ripe; the pistils opening at maturity and releasing the scarlet seeds which hang by delicate threads.
The beautiful fragrant blossoms of the sweet bay may be found from June till August, in swamps along the coast from Cape Ann southward.