Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The berries of the California Bay Tree (Umbellularia californica)

Hello there,

I've recently realised that my laurel post written so long ago is still producing effects a little bit everywhere and catching people's attention, so I decided to come up with something new. Investigating for my friends the readers of this blog.

Basically you just pop here, read an article I've wrote, and if you feel like you'd like to know more about it or you're curious about something to which the article is related, just leave me your questions. I promise to fuss and browse, and search and investigate and ask other people and read crazy loads of material to satisfy your curiosity.

To start with let's take a look at a question left by The Outcasts on the berries of the California Bay Tree:

"Do you know if the berries of the California Bay Tree are toxic? We just got a new puppy and he seems to like eating them. I've been reading conflicting reports. USDA material said that birds and small mammals eat them, but on other websites it says they're toxic."

First of all, thank you so very much for your question and time invested in reading my blog. I honestly appreciate it. Now on the subject of interest. This is what I could quickly find with the time I had available; take a look at the following:

"The Nuts of this tree are edible when roasted and have long been consumed on a regular basis by California Tribal groups as a condiment, digestive aid and stimulant. In consideration of its stimulating properties, it is best not to eat too many at once until you are familiar or you're bound to go nutty for a while. (Maybe that's what's up with those high strung nutty squirrels!) We would describe the buzz as edgier than caffeine, but shorter lived. At least some animals (like squirrels) eat the nuts and/or its fleshy coating. We recently saw a murder of crows snatching nuts in mid flight from an enormous nut-laden solitary tree. Alas, due to a well posted no trespassing fence line, we were unable to go investigate as to whether this party was in honor of the nuts or the husks. Judging from the crazed and erratic nature of this spectacle, it was probably the nuts, unless the flesh also contains a stimulant. Then again, crows are a little wacky anyway." [1]

"Both the flesh and the inner kernel of the olive-like fruit were used as food.  The fruits were sun dried until the fleshy outer part had split and loosened from the pit." [2]

I believe your puppy is just fine if he agrees to consume a reasonable amount of these berries. Obviously, if  considering that the berries you mention do actually come from the Umbellularia californica.

Au revoir!

[1] The California Bay Laurel, Paleotechnics, [http://www.paleotechnics.com/Articles/Bayarticle.html], last visited on the 16th of July 2013, last updated in 2005.

[2] United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, California Laurel, [http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_umca.pdf], last visited on the 16th of July 2013, last update unknown.

Image taken from Plant Lust, Umbellularia californica, [http://plantlust.com/plants/umbellularia-californica/], last visited on the 16th of July 2013, last update unknown.


  1. Does chamomile have the same potential to cause methmoglobinemia as benzocane/orajel?

  2. Give me some time to read more about it and I'll get back to you asap. Once again, thank you loads for visiting this blog, you guys make it what it is!

  3. My family has been eating them for as long as I can remember and our pets have accidentally eat them and we have never had any problem. I could see them causing sickness if eaten in very large amounts but we never have eaten too many at one time.