Family: Lauraceae
Common Name: Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay

The ancient Greeks used the leaves of this tree to form the wreaths which crowned the heroes of battle or sport and those who attained the baccalaureate, awarded for excellence in learn­ing or the arts. Both species are medium-sized, evergreen trees with highly aromatic leaves.


L. azorica, Canary Island laurel, grows 10 m (33 ft). It has 12 cm (5 in) long leaves and tiny, greenish cream flowers.

L. nobilis, sweet bay, from the Mediterranean, has dense, dark green leaves, which are used in cookery, and small, starry, fragrant, yellow flowers in the spring. Small, round, green berries follow the flowers, and ripen to a purplish black in the autumn. Growing about 12-15 m (40-50 ft) tall in its native habitat, it is usually smaller in cultiva­tion and is often grown in tubs as a standard or shaped as topiary.


Propagate from seed or from cut­tings of ripe wood. Laurel does best in a rich, moist soil in a sunny position, although it tol­erates frost and partial shade. Control scale insects, which often attack laurels, with a sys­temic insecticide.


Zone 9 for L. azorica, zone 8 for L. nobilis.

Laurelia      Lavandula