Shrub or small tree to 10 m, 0.5 m dbh. Branchlets dark brown, reddish brown or olive, glabrous or slightly pubescent. Leaves evergreen, alternate, fragrant, (4–)7–9(–12.5) × (1–)2–3(–4) cm, lanceolate or narrowly elliptic to ovate, leathery to membranous, glabrous, six to eight secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire and slightly thickened, apex acute to acuminate, often with a mucro; petiole 0.4–2 cm long and glabrous or rarely slightly pubescent. Inflorescences axillary, umbels (with three to five flowers) solitary or clustered with two pairs of decussate, deciduous bracts; staminate flowers to 0.3 cm long, yellowish and with six to eight tepals and 9 or 12 fertile stamens. Pistillate flowers to 0.2 cm long with six tepals and nine staminodes. Fruit a black, spherical berry, 0.8–1.2 cm diameter, sitting in a small disc-shaped cupule. Flowering February to May, fruiting August to September (Mexico). Allen 1945. Distribution COSTA RICA; EL SALVADOR; GUATEMALA; HONDURAS; MEXICO: all states except Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sonora; NICARAGUA. Habitat Montane and humid pine-oak forest between 800 and 2800 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 9–10. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT469.
Litsea glaucescens has a limited presence in cultivation in the western United States and would be worth trying in the mildest parts of western Europe. A 5 m tree seen in the San Francisco Botanical Garden had pendulous branches densely clad in glossy dark green leaves, and was bearing green unripe fruit when seen in July 2004. The leaves are lightly but pleasantly aromatic when crushed.