Herbs & Plants

Laurus nobilis

Botanical Name: Laurus nobilis
Family: Lauraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Laurales
Genus: Laurus
Species: L. nobilis

Common Names: Bay laurel, Sweet bay, True laurel, Grecian laurel, or Simply laurel.

Habitat: Laurus nobilis is native to the Mediterranean region.

Laurus nobilis is an evergreen shrub or small tree, variable in size and sometimes reaching 7–18 m (23–59 ft) tall. The genus Laurus includes four accepted species, whose diagnostic key characters often overlap.

It is dioecious (unisexual), with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm (3/8 in) diameter, and they are borne in pairs beside a leaf. The leaves are glabrous, 6–12 cm (2–5 in) long and 2–4 cm (3/4–1+5/8 in) broad, with an entire (untoothed) margin. On some leaves the margin undulates. The fruit is a small, shiny black berry-like drupe about 1 cm (3/8 in) long that contains one seed.


The plant Laurus nobilis (family Lauraceae) is widely cultivated in many regions of the world. It is widely grown as an ornamental plant in mild climates (zones 7-10), but can be grown as a long-lived houseplant or outdoor container plant in cold climates. Although it prefers well-drained soil and regular moisture, it is fairly tolerant of most conditions but can never be allowed to dry out completely.

A slow-growing hedge, Bay Laurel will typically grow around 10-20cm per year and is easily maintained at 1-2m. It is a low-maintenance hedging plant, only requiring a light trim in summer to help it keep its shape.

Propagating Bay Trees from Cuttings;
Cut a 6-inch (15 cm.) length from the end of a stem and remove all but the top couple leaves. Stick the cutting in a pot of good growing medium (Note: you may dip the end in rooting hormone first, if desired.) and keep it moist and out of direct sunlight.

Edible Uses:
The plant is the source of several popular herbs and one spice used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines. Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are added whole to Italian pasta sauces. They are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish. Whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity. Whole bay leaves are used almost exclusively as flavor agents during the food preparation stage.

Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody Mary. Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavoring.

Medicinal Uses:
Laurus nobilis essential oil in clear glass vial
In herbal medicine, aqueous extracts of bay laurel have been used as an astringent and salve for open wounds. It is also used in massage therapy and aromatherapy. A folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder listed a variety of conditions which laurel oil was supposed to treat: paralysis, spasms, sciatica, bruises, headaches, catarrhs, ear infections, and rheumatism.

Other uses:
Laurel oil is a secondary ingredient, and the distinguishing fragrant characteristic of Aleppo soap.

Ornamental Purpose:
Laurus nobilis is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in regions with Mediterranean or oceanic climates, and as a house plant or greenhouse plant in colder regions. It is used in topiary to create single erect stems with ball-shaped, box-shaped or twisted crowns; also for low hedges. However it is slow-growing and may take several years to reach the desired height. Together with a gold form, L. nobilis ‘Aurea’ and a willow-leaved form L. nobilis f. angustifolia, it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Known Hazards:
Bay leaf might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking bay leaf along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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