Laurus nobilis, commonly known as bay laurel or true laurel, is an evergreen tree that belongs to the family Lauraceae. It typically grows to a height of 5 to 12 meters (16 to 39 feet) with a dense, pyramidal or columnar shape. However, it can also be pruned into a smaller size and maintained as a shrub.
Appearance: The leaves of Laurus nobilis are glossy, leathery, and dark green in colour. They are oblong or elliptical in shape, measuring around 6 to 12 centimetres (2.4 to 4.7 inches) in length. The leaves have a characteristic aromatic scent and a slightly bitter taste. When crushed or bruised, they release a pleasant fragrance reminiscent of camphor and spice.
This plant produces small, yellowish-green flowers in clusters that emerge in spring. The flowers are inconspicuous and not particularly showy. They are followed by small, round berries that turn dark purple-black when ripe.
Toxicity: These berries are not typically consumed, as they have a strong flavour and can be mildly toxic if ingested in large quantities.
Origin: Laurus nobilis is native to the Mediterranean region, where it thrives in well-drained soil and prefers a sunny to partially shaded location. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate mild frost but may suffer damage in colder climates. It is often cultivated as an ornamental tree or shrub in gardens and landscapes, valued for its attractive foliage and aromatic qualities.
Benefits: In addition to its ornamental value, Laurus nobilis has been cultivated for culinary purposes for centuries. The leaves are commonly used as a flavouring agent in cooking, particularly in Mediterranean and European cuisine. They are added to dishes such as soups, stews, sauces, and marinades to impart a unique, herbal flavour.
Considerations: Overall, Laurus nobilis is a versatile and esteemed plant, appreciated for its ornamental beauty, aromatic leaves, and culinary uses.