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Family Lauraceae, composed of about 2,500 species of often aromatic and evergreen flowering plants in 50 genera. Included in this family are ornamentals and plants that produce cooking herbs, food fruits, and medicinal extracts. The genus Laurus includes bay laurel (L. nobilis), native to the Mediterranean, which provides bay leaves for cooking and essential oils for perfumery; its leaves and branches were used to make the wreaths that crowned victorious heroes and athletes in ancient Greece. Another genus, Cinnamomum, includes the camphor tree and cinnamon. Also included in this family are the avocado and the sassafras.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on laurel family, visit Britannica.com.
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