Silk Bay (Persea humilis)
Silk bay (also called scrub bay) occurs in scrubs throughout peninsular Florida. It is a very handsome shrub or small tree, reaching about 10' tall. The leaves of silk bay are shiny green on top and adorned beneath with a dense carpet of silky rusty-red hairs, an adaptation to reduce water loss by maintaining high humidity at the leaf surface. When crushed, the leaves smell like the culinary bay leaf (Laurus nobilis), which is in the same family (Lauraceae). A tiny scale insect often attacks older leaves of silk bay (and other species in the genus) causing them to deform and develop small galls which some people consider unsightly. It doesn't hurt the plant, though. A newly leafed-out silk bay, shimmering in the breeze with its rusty-red and shiny green leaves, is one of the most attractive shrubs you can find for no maintenance xeriscaping in zones 8-10. Silk bay is available from several native plant nurseries in central Florida.