Umbellularia californica *
(um-BEL-ew-lah-ree-a ka-li-FORN-i-ka)
Also called California Laurel or California-bay
 
Myrtle blossoms
The tiny delicate blossoms appear in late March.
 
A broadleaf evergreen tree, normally 25-30 ' high, will form a round, gum-drop shape when grown in the open.  Leaves are very aromatic.
 
When established, which may be difficult, it will grow in any rich, moist, well drained soil.  
 
 
Native peoples used the leaves to repel fleas and to treat headaches and poison oak dermatitis. In some people, the leaves may cause skin irritation and aromatic components in the leaves may cause sneezing and headaches if inhaled.  
 
This is NOT the source of the "bay leaf" generally used in cooking.  Bay leaves are from Laurus nobilis (True Laurel, Bay Laurel).  The leaves of Umbellularia californica are sometimes used as a bay leaf substitute but they have much stronger flavor.  
 
The Oregon Myrtle is also NOT the myrtle mentioned in the Bible - that myrtle is Myrtus communis or Common Myrtle.  
 
Oregon myrtle was discovered by Archibald Menzies of the Vancouver expedition in 1790 and introduced as an ornamental plant by David Douglas in 1829.
 
Location on campus:
On the northeast corner of the intersection of Monmouth Avenue and Jackson Street
* Information from Oregon State University's Landscape Plants web site.