Tamala palustris Rafinesque

Locations ofTamala palustris Rafinesque in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Tamala palustris Rafinesque
Common Name
Red Bay, Swamp Bay, Swamp Red Bay
Persea palustris (Raf.) Sarg.; Persea borbonia (L.) Sprengel var. pubescens (Pursh) Little
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Persea palustris (Raf.) Sarg.
Laurel wilt, a fungal disease of plants in the Lauraceae, is causing widespread mortality in the coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The fungus (Raffaelea sp.) is introduced into trees by an exotic Asian insect, the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). Although not yet widespread in Virginia Tamala populations, the disease could have a devastating impact on them in the near future.

According to Flora of the Southeastern U.S. (Weakley et al. 2023), recent phylogenetic studies have demonstrated that the traditional circumscription of Persea is untenable, and that the three native, southeastern U.S. species should be placed in another genus, Tamala (as done by Small 1933). The affinities of Tamala are with Asian genera (Nothaphoebe, Dehaasia, and Alseodaphne), not with Persea s.s. Tamala Raf. 1838 has nomenclatural priority over all other related genera in the clade, so even if a lumping approach were taken, southeastern plants would still be treated as Tamala, not as Persea.
Peaty, nonriverine swamps, wet flatwoods, pocosins, and maritime forests. Infrequent to locally common in the Coastal Plain, mostly near the coast; most common in the Great Dismal Swamp and in swamp and maritime forests of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach cities.
Native Status

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