Skip to content
Menu Close
Bay laurel IMG 3782

Laurus nobilis (Bay Laurel)

July 16, 2020

Laurus nobilis is known by many names: bay tree, sweet bay, bay laurel, true laurel or just laurel. This tree pervades our culture. The word laurel crops up here and there in words and expressions, such as baccalaureate, poet laureate and to rest on one’s laurels—and how many dishes, including sauces, stews and roasts, would lack a certain something without the addition of a bay leaf?

Bay laurel IMG 3767

Native to the Mediterranean region, it has been used as a flavoring and for medicinal purposes since classical times.

Laurel graphic

In ancient Greece, a wreath of laurel indicated great honor because of its association with the god Apollo. In Rome too, laurel wreaths were worn by victorious generals, emperors and other honored individuals.

During the summer, our fine bay tree can be seen in the Herb Garden.

Laurel setting

Trained as a “standard”, that is, as a lollipop shape, it looks truly noble in its large wooden container—actually a scaled-down version of a Versailles planter. Despite its weight, the container does allow for the plant to be moved into protected quarters for the winters.

Laurel planter

The work of Wave Hill’s recently retired Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day, this post dates back almost exactly a year to July 18, 2019. Charlie’s writing has a perennial quality, and we are delighted to be able to showcase his knowledge this spring with some new photos.