Laurus azorica 

Scope: Global & Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Laurales Lauraceae

Scientific Name: Laurus azorica (Seub.) Franco
Common Name(s):
English Macaronesian Laurel
Persea azorica Seub.
Taxonomic Source(s): The Plant List. 2017. The Plant List. Version 1.1. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: This species was previously thought to occur in the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores. The distribution of this species has now been restricted to the Azores and the populations in the Canary Islands and Madeira are considered L. novocanariensis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-12
Assessor(s): Silva, L. & Beech, E.
Reviewer(s): Fernandes, F., da Silva Menezes de Sequeira, M. & Allen, D.J.
This species is a small tree found only in the Azores. It is here assessed as Least Concern. The population numbers are large and the trend is now stable. The species has a restricted area of occupancy but is not declining. The main threat is invasive plants so action should be taken to manage this risk and avoid disturbance.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Laurus azorica is endemic to the Azores, where it is found on all the islands (Portal da Biodiversidade dos Açores 2017). The estimated extent of occurrence of this species is 46,382 km2 and the area of occupancy is 2,256 km2. The species is found from 50 to 1,000 m above sea level.
Countries occurrence:
Portugal (Azores)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:2256Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:46382
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Lower elevation limit (metres):50
Upper elevation limit (metres):1000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are likely to be more than 100,000 individuals of this species. The population trend is currently stable however the habitat of the mesothermo laurel forest was extensively cleared for agriculture, with great decreases in population size of this species.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:100000

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species grows as a tree up to 15 m. It is one of the major components of laurel forest but it is also present in other types of forest such as those dominated by Morella, Piconnia and Juniperus. It is also found in lava flows, margins of cultivated land, coastal scrubland, mountain scrubland and forested peat bogs. It is an important structural element in the natural forest communities of the Azores.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The timber was used in the past for construction. The fruits were also used for fuel as they contain a large amount of oil.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The tree was previously threatened by agricultural expansion leading to habitat loss, however this is now not happening. The most significant threat currently is invasive species such as Pittosporum latum, Hedychium gardenerianum, Leycesteria formosa and Clethra arborea. The invasive species are competing with the native vegetation. A potential threat that has yet to be confirmed is the possible hybridisation with Laurus nobilis as intermediate forms are sometimes found. Forest regeneration could be affected by introduced herbivores.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Laurus azorica is reported as held in 51 ex situ collections (BGCI 2015), however it is not known how many of these collections relate to the new restricted distribution of the species. This species was assessed as Lower Risk/near threatened in 1998 (Oldfield at al. 1998, WCMC 1998), however this assessment referred to a larger range. It is stored in the seed bank and botanic garden in Faial. It is found in some natural parks, with the majority of the population found inside. More research is need to confirm whether hybridisation is occurring. Invasive species should be removed to improve the conservation status of this species.

Citation: Silva, L. & Beech, E. 2017. Laurus azorica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T38397A81868030. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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