Indonesian bay leaf is not related to common bay leaf or Indian bay leaf and has quite different culinary characteristics, although it looks very similar.
Indonesian bay tree
Indonesian bay coming into flower
Dried Indonesian bay leaves
The tree grows wild in the Western part of the South-East Asian peninsular (Burma to Malaysia) and in Western Indonesia, although its culinary use is restricted to Malaysia and Indonesia.
Leaves. The small leaves turn brown on drying. As they are rarely traded in Europe, Indonesian cuisine cookbooks frequently suggest substitution by ordinary bay leaves, although there is little similarity between the two spices.
Myrtaceae (myrtle family).
Aromatic, slightly sour and astringent, but quite weak. The leaves develop a little more flavour after short frying.
The genus eugenia was so-named in honour of Prince Eugene of Savoy. The species name polyantha "many flowered" is derived from Greek polys "many" and anthos "flower". The Indonesian name daun salam (cf. Dutch daon salam, Malay daun salam) means "peace leaf" (daun means "leaf" in many Asian languages and salam from the Arabic salaam "peace").
Indonesian bay leaf is an exotic spice not readily available in the West (except for countries with a high proportion of Indonesians, e.g. The Netherlands). The leaves may be used fresh or dried and are common in the cuisines of Sumatra, Java and Bali. Applied to meat and (to a lesser extent) vegetables in order to release their flavour, they must be fried or otherwise cooked for a while.
In some books, daun salam is called "Indian bay leaf", a name stems from the time when Indonesia was generally known as "East India". This is misleading, because daun salam is known only in Indonesian and Malay cooking and it is totally different from the Indian bay leaf employed in North Indian cuisine.