The Indian laurel (Litsea glutinosa (Lour.) C. B. Rob.) is an evergreen, or deciduous, tree that reaches a height of 3-15 m. It is a polymorphic species with leaves that are alternate and elliptical to oblong-elliptical, 3.5-10 × 1.5-11 cm, velvety (particularly when young) or glabrous. Umbels contain many small yellowish flowers, the males having 8-20 stamens. Flowering occurs between March and June and fruits appear in September-October. Fruits are round and about 8 mm or less in diameter. The tree is able to reproduce vegetatively, accounting for over half of the stems produced, mostly from root-suckers (Rabena, 2008; Jacq et al., 2005; Huang Puhua et al., 2008).
Litsea glutinosa is a multipurpose, fast-growing tree. In the Northern Philippines, the leaves are chopped and soaked in water to make plaster. While Litsea glutinosa gives a poor timber due to its low wood density, it is often used as fuel (Rabena, 2008). It was introduced as a source of fuelwood, in the Comoros archipelago in the mid 19th century, to meet the high demand of the sugarcane distilleries, and later of the cinnamon, ylang-ylang and citronella distilleries (Vos, 2004). It is also used in ethnomedicine: in India, its bark and leaves are used as a demulcent and mild astringent for diarrhea and dysentery, and the paste of its roots is used as poultice for sprains and bruises (Das et al., 2013). In China, the oil contained in the seed (50%) is used to make soap (Huang Puhua et al., 2008). More recently, Litsea glutinosa has been investigated as a source of essential oils, arabinoxylans and other components with antiseptic properties (Prusti et al., 2008; Qin WenHui et al., 2012; Das et al., 2013).
The use of Litsea glutinosa as a fodder tree is particularly developed in Mayotte (Indian Ocean) where it has been reported that 93% of the cattle farmers were using Litsea glutinosa forage (Aubriot, 2011).