Called "Aromatic Laurier" in the 17th century by the R.P. Du Tertre, this tree has nothing to do with the Laurier. If so appointed, it is lack of botanical training on the part of the chronicler.
We have very little information on its origin. Leaves, wood, and the fruits of this medium-sized tree, were already known long before colonization.
"The Caribbean added its leaves in all their sauces." (R.P. Du Tertre). The first French settlers used it as a seasoning: «it is used commonly in sauces, but especially it dirty pig. We sprinkle salt and well mashed seeds all layers of meat as it suits them in jars or in barrels, and it covers them dry of the same tree leaves, as done in Europe of Laurel leaves. Thus accommodee meat contracts a taste and smell wonderful. "(Father Labat).
Its wood was considered in the 17th century as "the hardest, fullest, more massive and the weighing of all Woods in the country" (R.P. Du Tertre). It is the reason for which it was used to mill rolls, Dipper teeth, rays wheel and other works. Father Labat advocated to boards, because according to him, it is a wood that, apparently, polishes well.
Today, the wood of India be operated very little. It is especially used in the kitchen as a condiment, to marinate fish and some meat for example.
An original industry
Its leaves contain an essential oil. If distilled them into rum, they provide the "bay - rum", widely used in our islands a decade ago. The manufacture of the 'bay - rum"brought forth a small local industry. This product was used in friction against colds, and especially by athletes for their massages. Today, this industry has almost entirely disappeared, most of our "bay - rum" comes from the English Caribbean, Saint Lucia including.
We do not know the origin of the wood of India. It may be native. Peppers, already consumed by the Caribbean before the arrival of Christophe Colomb in the West Indies, originate from tropical America, without or with the Antilles (in the latter case they would be native). As cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, they were the object of a very active trade in the middle ages between Europe and Asia through the Muslims. It is partly to directly supply Asian spices, the Portuguese and the Spaniards went to the discovery of the oceans 15 ' century and Christophe Colomb discovered America. These four spices so had considerable importance until the 16th century. Maybe the french settlers introduced them to compete with Asian production. It is true, however, that from the 17 century, other tropical products (cane mostly) replaced the spices, which were relegated to a secondary level in the trade between Europe and the colonies.