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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Loblolly Bay

Gordonia lasianthus
Family: Theaceae

Natural History


Loblolly bay is a handsome, fast growing, and short-lived shrub or tree. It grows in shallow swamps and moist depressions of the Atlantic Coastal Plain from North Carolina to central Florida and southern Mississippi.

Sometimes loblolly bay is used as an ornamental. However, it has a shallow root system that requires adequate watering and will not cultivate well on dry sites. The bark has been used for tanning leather. Loblolly bay has light, soft, fine-grained, reddish wood that has been used in cabinetwork. Otherwise, loblolly bay has little commercial and wildlife value.

Loblolly bay belongs to the tea family, Theaceae. Although it is not used for tea, a related species - Camellia sinensis - is the source of our iced tea.

Another common species related to loblolly bay is the fragrant gardenia - a valuable ornamental and fragrance resource. All southeastern tea species produce similar large, white, showy fragrant flowers that occur as single flowers near the base of young leaves.

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