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Usually available: All year
Life cycle: Perennial
Height: 10 - 20m
Position: Sun / part shade
Soil preference: Well drained
This is how we pack and send your Herb Plants to all states except TAS & WA.
You will receive
- 1 Bay Tree Herb Plant in a 50 X 75mm tube - General growing instructions
All of our Herb Plants are grown organically with certified organic potting mixes and fertilizers
Botanical Name: Laurus nobilis
The Bay Tree is a large shrub or small tree with aromatic, dark green leaves known to many as one of the plants used in bay leaf seasoning. The leaves are 2-4 cm wide and 6-12 cm long with an entire, or un-toothed, slightly undulating margin. In cultivation it may grow from 10-20 meters, but this is not likely in most garden situations. The bay leaf plant is dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants. The small flowers are a pale, yellow green and borne in pairs beside a leaf. The fruit is small, black, shiny and has a 1 cm diameter.
The Bay Tree goes by many common names including, sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grevian Laurel, laurel tree, or simply, laurel. The name ‘Laurel’ was a name used prominently in the classical Roman, Greek and biblical culture. However, now there are many other trees around the world that go by the name bay leaf or laurel due to similar foliage. For example, Laura nobilis should not be confused with the Californian Bay Laurel. Laura nobilis belongs to the Lauraceae family, which has three species with similar characteristics. Symbolically, the Bay Tree is significant for a number of reasons. The bay leaf plant was used to make the laurel wreaths used in Ancient Greece, which were a symbol of high status. The ‘wreath of bay laurel’ was given as a prize at the Pythia Games, held in honour of Apollo, who had laurel as one of his symbols. In Greek language, ‘Daphne’ is the name for the laurel tree because in Greek mythology the laurel tree was first formed when the nymph Daphne was turned into a laurel tree due to Apollo’s pursuit of her.
Laurel was seen as a symbol of victory and is the source of the terms ‘poet laureate’ and ‘baccalaureate’. It is also the source of the phrases ‘to assume the laurel’ and ‘resting on one’s laurels’, or in other words to relax or be confident after being victorious. The name ‘laura’ comes from the Latin ‘laurus’ meaning ‘to laud or praise’ and ‘nobilis’ refers to ‘noble’. Today, it remains the national emblem of Greece.
In the bible, the laurel is often seen as a symbol of posterity and fame and in Christian tradition it symbolises the resurrection of Christ. Chinese folklore suggests that there is a huge laurel tree on the moon and sometimes the Chinese translation of laurel translates to ‘moon’. Another story tells of how the laurel tree regenerates and in Chinese folklore there are stories about this representing the endless toil of the worker.
The Bay Tree is now considered to be a ‘relic’ of the laurel forests that covered the Mediterranean Basin when the area was much more humid than today. About 10 000 years ago, the laurel forests disappeared and these areas now have drought tolerant sclerophylls as the dominant flora. Laurel forests are now only found in small pockets like the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco and Madeira.
The bay tree does well in areas with Mediterranean and/or Oceanic climates and can grow to a huge 30 meters in its native environment. In cultivation the tree remain small, or can be shaped to be quite shrub like. L. nobilis prefers to grow in full sun or part shade, within a well drained soil. The plant should be watered regularly so it can establish a good root system. However, it is important to allow the ground to dry out a certain amount before watering again. The bay tree does not like wet feet, but it does not like to be completely dry either. Try watering several days apart to work out the appropriate routine for your own soil and weather conditions.
The bay tree is very slow growing and will only flower after 10 -30 years, with small fruits to follow. It is often used for topiary and can be easily shaped into balls, squares and low hedges. There are several forms, including a golden cultivar. The bay tree may be used as an ornamental container plant, particularly in cold regions where planting outdoors is not feasible. In a container it is useful to use part cactus mix and part regular potting mix. If growing indoors, be sure to give the plant access to a lot of bright light.
The Bay Tree is the source of several spices and is very popular in Mediterranean dishes. The leaves may be harvested at any time, but the flavour and fragrance is strongest before blooming. The leaves are used both dried and fresh depending on the type of cooking. Some people prefer to use dried leaves because the drying process removes several bitter tasting compounds.
The aromatic leaves are often added to Italian pasta dishes, added to stews or to garnish lamb roasts. When using the leaves whole it is important to remove them before serving, since the edges can be sharp and abrasive. Ground bay leafs can be swallowed without risk, so many people prefer to use the leaf in this manner for soups, stocks and stews. It is also be used in the Bloody Mary drink. The whole leaves have a shelf life of one year. The dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil may also be used as a robust spice. The wood may also be burnt to create a strong smoked flavouring during cooking.
Bay leaf has been used for centuries as a medicinal ingredient, with particular use in soothing the stomach and relief of flatulence. Extracts and salves made from bay leaf is said to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism when massaged into the area. As a folk remedy, bay tree was used in a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves as a remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, stinging nettle and poison oak. Notable modern research indicates that the chemical compound lauroside B, isolated from L.nobilis, is an inhibitor of human melanoma cell proliferation at high concentrations.
The most abundant of the essential oils is cineole, also called eucalyptol, at 45% in total. Other oils include terpenes and sequesterpenes. Both essential and fatty oils are present in the fruit which is pressed and the water extracted. The fruit contains 305 fatty oils and only 1% essential oils.
The leaves may be placed in a muslin bag and placed into a flour jar to help repel flour weevils. Replace the leaves every six months. The laurel oils are the essential and distinguishing ingredient in Aleppo soap.
All information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Please seek professional advice before commencing any treatment.