Bay Leaf – Laurus Nobilis

Bay Leaf – Laurus Nobilis

Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen small tree or large shrub with green, glabrous leaves, in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking. Its common names include bay laurel, sweet bay, bay (esp. United Kingdom),true laurel, Grecian laurel,laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture.

Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called “bay” or “laurel”, generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae.

 

Variable in size and sometimes reaching 7–18 metres (23–59 ft) tall.[1] The genus Laurus includes four accepted species,[3] whose diagnostic key characters often overlap (Mabberley 1997).

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

A recent study found considerable genetic diversity within L. nobilis, and that L. azorica is not genetically or morphologically distinct.[6]


Date Planted

Initially bought as a small plant in a pot. It grew for first year, year in a half in a pot then we planted it in our garden late summer 2016 in Brugge, BE


Purchase Info

2014/15? Bought around Brugge Belgium.


Progress

 


Diseases and Problems

Around March 2017 many leaves had spots, we removed them. Around late April all the leaves have regrown.


Chemical constituents

The most abundant component found in laurel essential oil is 1,8-cineole, also called eucalyptol. The leaves contain about 1.3% essential oils (ol. lauri folii), consisting of 45% eucalyptol, 12% other terpenes, 8-12% terpinyl acetate, 3–4% sesquiterpenes, 3% methyleugenol, and other α- and β-pinenes, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol, and terpineol, contains lauric acid also.[7]

Both essential and fatty oils are present in the fruit. The fruit is pressed and water-extracted to obtain these products. The fruit contains up to 30% fatty oils and about 1% essential oils (terpenes, sesquiterpenes, alcohols, and ketones).


Human Uses


Food
The plant is the source of several popular herbs and one spice used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines.[4] 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.[8] Whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity.[8] 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.[8] Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavoring.[8]


Alternative Medicine
Aqueous extracts of bay laurel can also be used as astringents and even as a reasonable salve for open wounds.[9]

In massage therapy, the essential oil of bay laurel is reputed to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism, while in aromatherapy, it is used to treat earaches and high blood pressure.[10] A traditional folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves.[11]

The chemical compound lauroside B isolated from Laurus nobilis is an inhibitor of human melanoma (skin cancer) cell proliferation at high concentrations in-vitro.[12]


Other Uses

Laurel oil is a main ingredient, and the distinguishing characteristic of Aleppo soap.


Symbolism


Europe

Bay laurel was used to fashion the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, a symbol of highest status. A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games because the games were in honor of Apollo, and the laurel was one of his symbols.

The symbolism carried over to Roman culture, which held the laurel as a symbol of victory.[15] It is also the source of the words baccalaureate and poet laureate, as well as the expressions “assume the laurel” and “resting on one’s laurels”. Ovid tells the story in the Metamorphoses that laurel tree was first formed when the nymph Daphne was changed into a laurel tree because of Apollo’s pursuit of her. Daphne is the Greek name for the tree.[16]


East Asia

An early Chinese etiological myth for the phases of the moon involved a great forest or tree which quickly grew and lost its leaves and flowers every month. After the Sui and Tang dynasties, this was sometimes connected to a woodsman named Wu Gang, sentenced to cut at a self-repairing tree as a punishment for varying offenses. The tree was originally identified as a (guì) and described in the terms of the osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans, now known in Chinese as the 桂花 or “gui flower”), whose blossoms are still used to flavor wine and confections for the Mid-Autumn Festival. However, in English, it is often associated with the more well-known cassia (Cinnamomum cassia, now known in Chinese as the 肉桂 or “meat gui“) while, in modern Chinese, it has instead become associated with the Mediterranean laurel. By the Qing dynasty, the chengyu “pluck osmanthus in the Toad Palace” (蟾宫折桂, Chángōng zhé guì) meant passing the imperial examinations,[17][18][19] which were held around the time of the lunar festival. The similar association in Europe of laurels with victory and success led to its translation into Chinese as the 月桂 or “Moon gui“.