AZ Arboretums

Laurus nobilis

Sweet bay

Common: Sweet bay, Laurel, Bay laurel, Bay leaf tree
Family: Lauraceae
Origin: Native of Mediterranean region
Light: Prefers some shade
Water: Well-drained, fertile soil
Temperature: Hardy to 20 degrees F

Versatile plant that can be grown in containers and pruned into formal shapes and hedges. If regularly trimmed, makes decorative shrub. Dense screening plant makes dark background for plants with showy flowers. Evergreen tree. Naturally multi-stemmed.

Can reach 60 feet high in native lands, but seldom reaches 10 feet high when grown in a pot in cooler climates. Spreads to 10-15 feet. Leaves are flat, pointed, and oval, 3 inches long, and dark green and glossy.

Both leaves and wood are strongly aromatic. Stems are tough and woody and have gray bark. Flowers appear in late spring at the base of the leaf stem, and are small, yellow and insignificant.

Susceptible to scale infestations. Harvest leaves to use whole in meat dishes, stews and soups. You can also dry and pulverize the leaves to use as a powder in cooking. Use whole leaves in potpourri and herbal wreaths. Dry leaves by hanging them in bunches in a warm, dry place. To prevent silverfish damage to books or clothing, place a few leaves in drawers or on bookcases. A few leaves in the pantry shelves will keep weevils away.