by Preston Brady III, Herbscapes.com 2023
Photo: Bay Laurel, Herbscapes.com 2023
Like so many herbs, the Laurus nobilis was originally found in the Mediterranean region of the world. Here we are speaking of Greece, Egypt, Portugal, Italy, Turkey and several more. Over three thousand years ago Greeks and Romans made wreaths from the branches and presented them as crowns to poets and athletes (yes, back then poets were treated like college football players today.) Bay laurel is thought to have medicinal qualities. and has been used to treat diabetes, muscle pain, high blood pressure and respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Many Americans have been introduced to the leaf through a pot of steaming chili. I have three small trees and pull a leaf or two for pots of lima beans, black-eyed peas and a variety of soups including chicken. One, maybe two leaves is sufficient to add a subtle flavor that has been described as a mix of nutmeg and clove, along with citrus scents and flavors. If you would like to have your own bay laurel tree, I found one on Amazon, currently $9.00 USD. Select the image link to get one for yourself.
If you live in an area where the temperature drops below 20F (-7C) then either protect the tree or grow in a container indoor during winter. My trees are in the ground, and I live in south Alabama, where it rarely drops below 20F, although it has. I don’t see how any gardener with a serious focus on herbs would not have a bay laurel tree in the mix. It’s distinctive scent and taste stand it alone in the world of herbs and spices, and a jar of bay leaves is one item I never have to add to my shopping cart. I just walk outside and pluck a few from one of the trees.