1. Lauraceae Juss.

    1. This family is accepted.


Chanderbali, A.S. (2009). Neotropical Lauraceae.


Trees or shrubs, with one twining hemiparasitic herb (Cassytha Osb. ex L.); typically aromatic in all parts. Leaves simple , entire ; exstipulate ; alternate , rarely opposite or whorled ; usually penninerved but often 3-veined. Inflorescences axillary , paniculate, thyrsoid, racemose, pseudo-umbellate. Flowers actinomorphic , small; trimerous, rarely dimerous or irregular, bisexual or unisexual, perigynous with a shallow to deeply cup-shaped receptacle ; perianth of whorls of ( sub )equal tepals, outer whorl occasionally ½ to ¼ smaller; tepals typically pale, yellowish, greenish, or whitish; erect , spreading, reflexed , rarely inflexed; stamens usually nine in three whorls (3-12, rarely more), inner with a pair of glands at base; anthers 2- or 4-locular, dehiscing by valves, outer two whorls introrse, inner stamens extrorse; one whorl of apically glandular staminodes internal to fertile stamens; rarely fertile or lacking. Ovary superior ; stigma tri- lobed , discoid or reniform . Fruits fleshy , rarely woody , single-seeded berries typically seated in an enlarged receptacle or cupule. Cupules usually hemispherical, occasionally flat, rarely reflexed .

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Distributed from Mexico to Argentina in lowland and montane forests throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
General Description
Number of genera

27 genera in the Neotropics, of which Ocotea and Nectandra are the largest with more than 300 and 100 species, respectively.

  • Aiouea Aubl.
  • Anaueria Kosterm.
  • Aniba Aubl.
  • Beilschmiedia Nees
  • Caryodaphnopsis Airy Shaw
  • Cassytha Osb. ex L.
  • Chlorocardium Rohwer, H.G. Richter & van der Werff
  • Cinnamomum Schaeffer
  • Cryptocarya R. Br.
  • Dicypellium Nees & Mart.
  • Endlicheria Nees
  • Kubitzkia van der Werff.
  • Licaria Aubl.
  • Litsea Lam.
  • Mezilaurus Kuntze ex Taubert.
  • Mocinnodaphne Lorea-Hernández
  • Nectandra Rolander ex Rottb.
  • Ocotea Aubl.
  • Paraia Rohwer, H.G. Richter & van der Werff.
  • Persea Mill.
  • Phyllostemonodaphne Kosterm.
  • Pleurothyrium Nees
  • Povedadaphne Burger
  • Rhodostemonodaphne Rohwer & Kubitzki
  • Sextonia van der Werff
  • Urbanodendron Mez
  • Williamodendron Kubitzki & H.G. Richter
  • Native to the Neotropics.
General notes
  • The avocado, Persea americana Mill., is widely cultivated.
  • Several Lauraceae are important sources of timber, e.g. Chlorocardium (Greenheart).
Notes on delimitation
  • The Lauraceae are a clearly monophyletic group firmly nested in the order Laurales of the magnoliid clade of angiosperms.
Useful tips for generic identification

Key to the Latin American Genera of Lauraceae


Notable genera and distinguishing features
  • Ocotea: nine stamens with four-locular anthers; the locules arranged in superimposed pairs; flowers bisexual or unisexual.
  • Nectandra: nine stamens with four-locular anthers; the locules arranged in a shallow arc; flowers bisexual.
  • Rhodostemonodaphne: nine stamens with four-locular anthers; the locules arranged in a shallow arc; flowers unisexual.
  • Aniba: nine stamens with two-locular anthers; flowers bisexual. Cupule hemispherical.
  • Endlicheria: nine stamens with two-locular anthers; flowers unisexual.
  • Licaria: only inner three stamens fertile; two-locular anthers; flowers bisexual. Cupules with double-margins.
  • Cryptocarya: nine stamens with two-locular anthers; flowers bisexual. Cupule enclosing the fruit.
  • Beilschmiedia: nine stamens with two-locular anthers; flowers bisexual. Cupule absent.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Anthers dehiscing by apically hinged valves.
Other important characters
  • Fruits are blackish-blue berries seated in red hemispherical cupules.
  • Scent of bay leaves, often much stronger to pungent.
Key differences from similar families
  • The hemiparasitic Cassytha is often confused from Cuscuta L. (Convolulaceae) and flowers must be consulted to distinguish the two. The Lauraceae are otherwise not easily confused with other families.
  • Valvate anthers occur also in Berberidaceae, which are small spiny shrubs of high altitudes in the Neotropics.
Important literature

Chanderbali, A. S.. 2004. Endlicheria (Lauraceae). Flora Neotropica Monograph 91, New York Botanical Garden Press, New York. 141 pp.

Madriñan, S. 2004. Rhodostemonodaphne (Lauraceae).  Flora Neotropica Monograph 92, New York Botanical Garden Press, New York. 102 pp.

Nishida, S. 1999. Revision of Beilschmiedia (Lauraceae) in the Neotropics. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 86: 657-701.

Rohwer, J. G. 1993. Nectandra (Lauraceae). Flora Neotropica Monograpg 60, New York Botanical Garden Press, New York, New York. 332 pp.

Van der Werff, H. 1991. A key to the genera of Lauraceae in the New World. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 78: 377-387.


Lauraceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:1. 1954

Trees or shrubs, very rarely twining parasitic herbs, all parts with aromatic oil-glands
Leaves alternate, rarely opposite or subopposite, coriaceous and evergreen, variously nerved; stipules absent
Flowers small, greenish or yellowish, usually cymose or racemose, hermaphrodite, polygamous or dioecious, actinomorphic
Calyx usually inferior; tube sometimes enlarging in fruit; lobes usually 6, imbricate
Petals absent
Stamens typically in 4 whorls, often the fourth row suppressed or reduced to staminodes; filaments sometimes glandular at the base, very rarely the glands fused into a disk; anthers continuous with the filament, 2–or 4-valved, cells superposed or more or less collateral, opening from the base upwards by flaps, introrse or sometimes the third whorl extrorse
Ovary superior, rarely inferior, 1-celled; style terminal, simple; stigma small Ovule solitary, pendulous
Fruit baccate or drupaceous
Seed pendulous, without endosperm; testa membranous; embryo straight; cotyledons thick, fleshy; radicle superior

Lauraceae, Bernard Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1996

Mostly evergreen trees (often tall with buttresses), shrubs or, in Cassytha, parasitic twiners with scale-like leaves
Leaves simple, alternate or occasionally opposite, entire to slightly undulate or, in about six SPECIES, lobed, usually coriaceous; stipules absent
Flowers usually small, mostly green or yellow, regular, unisexual or hermaphrodite, in cymes, false umbels, heads, spikes, panicles or occasionally solitary; bracts small or absent or, in a few genera, forming an involucre at the base of the inflorescences or partial inflorescences
Perianth-lobes usually ± equal, in 2 whorls of (2-)3, imbricate or in ± one whorl
Stamens and staminodes usually twice as many as perianth-segments, in 4 (rarely more) whorls; innermost whorl and occasionally 2 outer whorls reduced to staminodes; filaments of third whorl usually with 2 ± stalked or sessile glands on either side, the stalk sometimes adnate to the filament, rarely all or none with glands; anthers with 2-4 thecae opening by valves, those of the outer stamens introrse, those of the third series often extrorse
Ovary unicarpellate, sessile, free or in a few genera adhering to the calyx-tube and appearing inferior, 1-locular; ovule 1, pendulous, anatropous
Fruit a 1-seeded berry or dry but indehiscent
Seeds with endosperm; cotyledons large

Lauraceae, B.L. Stannard. Flora Zambesiaca 9:2. 1997

Evergreen monoecious, or dioecious polygamous trees or shrubs, rarely leafless twining parasitic herbs with haustoria (Cassytha), all parts usually with aromatic oil glands
Leaves alternate, rarely opposite or subopposite, entire, coriaceous, rarely membranaceous, pinnately nerved or 3–5-nerved from near the base, usually net-veined, leaves reduced to small scales in Cassytha; stipules lacking
Inflorescences of cymes or paniculately arranged cymes, racemes or heads; flowers rarely solitary, axillary, usually subterminal; bracts simple, involucrate, deciduous; bracteoles present or lacking
Flowers hermaphrodite, unisexual by abortion, greenish, yellowish or reddish, actinomorphic
Receptacle campanulate, cup-shaped or urceolate, rarely oblong, sometimes accrescent after flowering
Perianth (2)3-merous in 2 whorls, not differentiated into calyx and corolla; tepals (4)6(8) free or ± connate, all similar or the outer ones smaller than the inner, imbricate or valvate in bud, deciduous or persistent
Stamens usually in 4 whorls inserted in the throat of the receptacle, or at the base of and opposite to the tepals, usually the fourth whorl, and sometimes the third whorl staminodal; filaments usually present and free, ± flattened, varying from very short to much longer than the anthers, those of the inner whorls mostly with a pair of globose glands at the sides or at the base (less often the glands attached to the receptacle, or sometimes the outer stamens with glands at the base); anthers basifixed, 2–4-celled, rarely 1-celled by confluence, cells ± collateral, or superposed (in 4-celled anthers), dehiscing from the base upwards; staminodes tepaloid, sagittate or ligulate
Ovary superior, rarely inferior (in Africa, Hypodaphnis), 1-locular; ovule solitary, anatropous from near the apex; style terminal; stigma small, discoid, pointed or unilaterally widened, rarely 2–3-lobed
Fruit baccate or drupaceous, indehiscent, free or ± surrounded by the accrescent receptacle, or completely enclosed within it, often borne on a thickened fruiting pedicel
Seed 1; testa membranaceous to coriaceous, sometimes adnate to the pericarp and indistinct; endosperm lacking; embryo straight; radicle superior, cotyledons fleshy, sometimes connate


Lauraceae Juss. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 80. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/boj.12385


Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible

Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.