|Laurus nobilis subsp. var.||Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay|
The Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae), also known as True Laurel, Sweet Bay, Laurel Tree, Grecian Laurel, Laurel, or Bay Tree, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub reaching 10 – 18 m tall, native to the Mediterranean region.
The leaves are 6–12 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with a characteristic finely serrated and wrinkled margin. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants; each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm diameter, borne in pairs together beside a leaf. The fruit is a small black berry about 1 cm long, containing a single seed.
An evergreen Tree growing to 12m by 10m at a slow rate. It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to May. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.pf
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
Succeeds in any soil of moderate fertility, preferring a moisture retentive well-drained fertile soil. Succeeds in dry soils. Prefers full sun but succeeds in light shade. Plants are fairly wind hardy, but they do not like extreme maritime exposure or cold dry winds. The plant is not fully hardy in all areas of Britain and may require protection in severe winters. When dormant it is reliably hardy to about -5°c, with occasional lows to -15°c, these lower temperatures may defoliate the tree but it usually recovers in late spring to summer. Laurus nobilis angustifolia (Syn 'Salicifolia') is somewhat hardier and has the same aromatic qualities. The bay tree is a very ornamental plant that is often cultivated for its leaves which are used as a food flavouring. Some named forms exist. When bruised, the leaves release a sweet aromatic scent. The tree is highly resistant to pests and diseases[14, 201] and is also notably resistant to honey fungus. This species has been held in high esteem since ancient times. It was dedicated to Apollo, the god of light and was also a symbol of peace and victory. It was used to make wreaths for emperors, generals and poets[11, 89, 244]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Can take 6 months[1, 14]. Cuttings of mature side shoots, 10 - 12cm with a heel, November/December in a cold frame. Leave for 18 months. High percentage. Layering.
Pests and diseases
- Plants for a Future - creative commons text incorporated
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963