Important Note: The seeds on this page will benefit greatly from using the CAPE Smoke Seed Germination Primer that we use in our own greenhouses. We find we receive significantly better germination results when we use this primer on these types of seeds.
Location: Bay laurel is native to the southern Mediterranean
region. It is grown commercially for its aromatic leaves in
Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, and
Culture: Light: Bay laurel grows best in partial shade.
Moisture: Water when dry. Bay laurel thrives with frequent watering in rich, well-drained soil.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 10.
Usage: Where hardy, grow bay laurel in a woodland garden or as a specimen. Protect from cold winter winds. Bay laurel is an excellent shrub for hedges and a favorite for topiary sculpture because it responds very well to pruning. It can be trained as a standard or allowed to grow as a spreading shrub. In cooler regions, grow in a container and bring indoors in winter.
The popular culinary seasoning, bay leaf, is used extensively in French, Italian, Spanish and Creole cooking. It flavors soups, stews, shellfish boils, pickling brines, sauces, marinades, and poultry and fish dishes. Always remove the bay leaves before serving, because they are sharp and can cut the mouth and throat. French chefs place bay leaves, parsley and thyme in a little bundle called a bouquet garni that is removed after cooking. Pick bay leaves early in the day and dry quickly under weight so they won't curl. Store in an air-tight jar.
Features: Bay laurel is the true laurel of Greek and Roman
mythology. A poet laureate is an accomplished poet, and the
Roman poet, Ovid, retold the story of the Greek nymph, Daphne,
who was transformed into a laurel tree by her father, Peneus,
so that she could avoid the amorous pursuit of the god, Apollo.
(Cupid had shot an arrow into the fair maiden's heart so that
she would not love Apollo.) Thereafter, Apollo wore a wreath of
laurel to show his love for Daphne. Laurel has always
symbolized victory and merit, and a baccalaureate (baca lauri,
Latin for "laurel berry") still is a symbol of accomplishment.
Bay laurel has been credited with magical properties, like
protecting from witches, the devil and lightning.
The leaves and berries of bay laurel contain the essential oils eugenol, cineol and geraniol, which account for the distinctive spicy aroma. Infusions are reputed to soothe the stomach and relieve flatulence. An oil pressed from the berries was once a popular liniment for arthritis and sore muscles, and still is used in perfumes, candles and soaps.