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Products > Laurus nobilis
 
Laurus nobilis - Sweet Bay
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Lauraceae (Laurels)
Origin: Europe, Southern (Europe)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 20-30 feet
Width: 10-20 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: <15 F
Laurus nobilis (Sweet Bay) - Sweet Bay is a moderately slow growing dense evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches 10'-25' tall and almost as wide with very aromatic elliptical 3 to 5 inch long leathery dark green leaves. The greenish-yellow flowers in early summer are not particularly ornamental and are followed by inch wide dark green-to-black berries that form on female trees (this is a dioecious species) in the fall. Grows in sun or shade but seems to do best in cool coastal sun or light shade inland, with little or regular irrigation but not waterlogging tolerates heavy soils so long as they drain well. It is quite hardy to frost. Noted for tolerance in coastal plantings. It is a hardy plant that can grow in areas that experience temperatures down to at least 10 degrees F. A great tree or trimmed hedge or topiary subject for the dry or irrigated garden and the leaves can be used in cooking and oil from the fruit is used in making perfume. This tree was one of the main components, with the common holly (Ilex aquifolium), of extensive prehistoric laurel forests that covered much of the area around the Mediterranean Sea basin but these forest retreated beginning in the drier Pliocene era and continued until little remained but relict populations by the end of Pleistocene era, approximately ten thousand years ago. These extant populations exist in in southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, Portugal and northern Morocco. The name for the genus comes from the ancient name for the plant and the specific epithet is the Latin word for "noble" or "famous". The branches of this species were twisted into headpieces by ancient Greeks to crown victors and the word laurel is used to indicate prestige and is the root of such words as baccalaureate and poet laureate and well as used in phases such as "resting on one's laurels". Other common names include Bay Laurel, Bay Tree, Mediterranean Sweet Bay, True Laurel, Grecian Laurel, Laurel Tree, or just by the name "Laurel". This plant was introduced into cultivation as early as to Britain at least as early as 1650 and received the Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit in 1993.  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Laurus nobilis.
 
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