Indian Laurel - Litsea glutinosa


Indian laurel Litsea glutinosa is an aromatic medicinal tree that belongs to the Avocado family Lauraceae  


Indian Laurel - Litsea glutinosa


Litsea glutinosa is an evergreen tree which grows 6-10m high with velvety-hairy young shoots. The leathery leaves are smooth above and hairy beneath. The flowers are yellow-orange in colour. Vast quantities of black, shiny, pea-sized berries which are loved by birds are produced.  


Natural Habitat
Litsea glutinosa has a distribution in mixed primary and secondary forest and thickets
from India through Indo-China towards the Malesian area where it occurs in all parts, and northern Australia. Litsea glutinosa is a plant with many uses in particular medicinal in its area of origin as well as in some of its areas of introduction.  


Invasive alien 

In many countries where Litsea glutinosa has been introduced in particular the Indian Ocean Islands of Seychelles, Comores and Mascarenes it has become highly invasive. In South Africa it occurs mainly in localised pockets which are particularly widespread along the KZN coast, however is spreading fast. 

Two reasons for it's success at being an invasive specie are that it seeds prolifically and also produces suckers abundantly allowing it to spread rapidly and build up dense thickets that displace native vegetation where very little else can compete against the carpets of seedlings that germinate in the vicinity of large fruiting trees. One tree can infest a neighbourhood in a very short time.
 It is best to remove Litsea before they set seed and become a food source for birds such as starlings, bulbuls and barbets which spread the seed far and wide. Seeds germinate readily and even very small seedlings are difficult to pull out as the tap root is long and strong and is inclined to break off below ground level and re-grow. The impact on the environment in most areas of introduction is severe. 


In South Africa Litsea glutinosa is classified as a Cat 1 invasive plant under The Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, No. 43 of 1983, as amended in March 2001 


Category 1 declared plants (Section 15A of the amended act): 

  • may not occur on any land or inland water surface other than in biological control reserves. 
  • must be controlled by the land user on whose land or inland water such plants are growing
  • may not be planted or propagated. 
  • may not be imported or sold; and 
  • may not be allowed to disperse

Control measures 

Litsea glutinosa is very difficult to control. Trees may be removed by cutting down but if this operation is not followed by a stump treatment with a suitable herbicide they will simply re-grow both from the cut stem as well as from the roots.  


Basal stem:  

For small trees with diameter less than 15cm, use triclopyr (Garlon®) mixed at the rate of 20ml to1L of diesel, for larger trees use triclopyr (Garlon®) mixed at the rate of 50ml to1L of diesel applied as a basal stem treatment after administering a ring of axe cuts as low down on the trunk as possible.  


Stump treatment:  

Apply triclopyr (Garlon®) mixed at the rate of  50ml to 1 L of diesel or Imazapyr (Chopper®) mixed at the rate of 50ml to1 L of water over the entire stump in particular the cambium layer.  


Repeat treatments may be required 


Michael Hickman