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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Order: Laurales

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > magnoliids

Seven families of which four are encountered in southern Africa. Worldwide there are 91 genera and 2858 species of which six genera and 14 species are native to southern Africa, three genera and five species are naturalised, and an additional four genera and 12 species are cultivated in the region. The Lauraceae is the most diverse family in the region and includes Stinkwood as well as important cultivated species such as Avocado, Cinnamon and Bay laurel (yielding bay leaves).

Families encountered in southern Africa


Five genera and 11 species, native to China, North America and northeastern Australia. Two genera and three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

Lauraceae (Cinnamomum, Avocado, Stinkwood, False Dodder family)

About 50 genera and 2500 species worldwide (mainly tropics and subtropics), with four genera and 12 species native to southern Africa, three genera and five species that are naturalised, and a further two genera and nine species that are cultivated in the region. The family includes Avocado, Cinnamon, Bay laurel (yielding bay leaves) and Stinkwood.


About 22 genera and 200 species (mainly tropical regions but also southern South America, eastern Australia and New Zealand), with one species, Xymalos monospora (Lemon wood), native to southern Africa.


Five genera and 55 species (pantropical), with one species, Gyrocarpus americanus subsp. africanus native from Eritrea to South Africa (Limpopo).

Families not encountered in southern Africa: Siparunaceae, Gomortegaceae, and Atherospermataceae.