Litsea is a genus of evergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs belonging to the Laurel family, Lauraceae. The genus includes 136 accepted species in tropical and subtropical areas of both hemispheres.
Trees or shrubs, dioecious. The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen depending on species, and aromatic. The flowers are from greenish to white, greenish-yellow, yellowish.
Deciduous shrubs or small trees, up to 4 m tall. Young branchlets covered with pubescence. Leaves alternate or clustered at apex of branchlet; petiole 1-1.5 cm, covered with white pubescence; leaf blade oblong or elliptic, 4-12 × 2-4.8 cm, glaucous and with dense white pubescence abaxially, glabrous adaxially, pinninerved, lateral veins 6-9 pairs, base cuneate, apex abruptly acute. Umbels axillary, often 2- or 3-fascicled on short branchlets, male umbel 4-6-flowered, flowering before leaves or with leaves; peduncle ca. 6 mm, white pubescent. Male flowers: perianth segments 6, yellow, broadly obovate; fertile stamens 9; filaments pubescent, of 3rd whorls each with 2 yellow peltate-cordate glands at base; rudimentary pistil absent. Fruit globose, ca. 5 mm in diam., blue-black at maturity; fruiting pedicel 5-6 mm, sparsely pubescent. Fl. Mar-Apr, fr. Sep-Oct.
Thickets or broad-leaved forests on mountain slopes; 600-2800 m. Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, E Xizang, Yunnan [N Thailand].
The fruit is processed for its aromatic oil (3%-5%). The seeds contain ca. 25% oil and are used as a main ingredient in soaps. The roots and fruit are also used medicinally.