Description from Flora of China
Beilschmiedia parvifolia Lecomte; Benzoin commune (Hemsley) Rehder; B. formosanum (Hayata) Kamikoti; Lindera bodinieri H. Léveillé; L. communis var. esquirolii (H. Léveillé) S. Y. Hu; L. formosana Hayata; L. glauca Blume var. nitidula Lecomte; L. paxiana H. Winkler; L. sterrophylla C. K. Allen; L. yunnanensis H. Léveillé; Litsea cavaleriei H. Léveillé; L. esquirolii H. Léveillé (1911), not (H. Léveillé) C. K. Allen (1936).
Evergreen shrubs or trees, (1-)3-4(-5) m tall, ca. 25 cm d.b.h. Bark brownish. One-year-old branchlets stout, glabrous, with irregular longitudinal splits; current year branchlets slender, green and brown when dry, striate, laxly or densely yellow-white pubescent, with many bud scale scars at base. Terminal bud ovate, ca. 5 mm. Leaves alternate; petiole 5-8 mm, yellow-brown pubescent or nearly glabrous; leaf blade gray-green or yellowish abaxially, green adaxially, lanceolate, ovate, or elliptic, (3-)4-9(-12.5) × (1-)1.5-3(-4.5) cm, thinly leathery or thickly leathery, yellow-brown pubescent, later laxly pubescent or glabrous abaxially, glabrous adaxially, pinninerved, lateral veins 5-7 pairs, curved, midrib convex abaxially, concave adaxially, base broadly cuneate or subrounded, margin involute, apex acuminate, acute, or sometimes nearly caudate-acuminate. Umbels solitary or 2, inserted in leaf axil; peduncles very short; involucral bracts 4, early deciduous. Male flowers yellow, ca. 4 mm in diam.; pedicels 2-2.5 mm, slightly golden pubescent; tepals 6, ovate, nearly equal in size, ca. 3 × 1.5 mm, laxly golden pubescent or nearly glabrous outside, apex rounded; stamens 9, 2.5-3 mm; filament slightly pubescent or glabrous, equal to length of anthers, 2-glandular at base in 3rd whorl; glands broadly reniform, cornute; pistil reduced; ovary ovate, ca. 1 mm, glabrous; style and stigma hebetate. Female flowers yellow or yellow-white; tepals 6, ovate, ca. 2 mm, pubescent outside; reduced stamens 9, fasciated, ca. 1.5 mm, 2-glandular at filament base in 3rd whorl; ovary elliptic, ca. 1.5 mm, glabrous; style ca. 2 mm; stigma peltate, papillate. Fruit ovate, ca. 1 cm × 7-8 mm, sometimes rather small and subglobose, glabrous, red at maturity; stipes 4-7 mm, yellow-brown pubescent. Fl. Mar-Apr, fr. Sep-Oct.
The morphological characters of an isotype of Lindera sterrophylla match those of L. communis, so the former name is here treated as a synonym of the latter.
The pericarp contains aromatic oil. The seed oil is used in food and for making soap and machine oil. The branchlets and leaves are used medicinally.
Dry sandy places, evergreen broad-leaved forests. Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam].