Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet Bay Laurel--Herb

Sweet Bay Laurel
Mention bay leaf to me and I immediately think of soup, stew, beans, pot roast, and barbecue!  Thanks to Pat and our lovely Sweet Bay Laurel tree, I'll never have to buy dried bay leaves again.  What a luxury it is to step outside anytime of the year and pluck a leaf or two to add to the pot simmering on the stove!


This tree grew to its current height of about 7' within about 2 or 3 years.  The only care required is pruning to keep it shaped and compact.  It will send off shoots from the trunk, but those are easily pruned as well.  You can tell by the pruning paint on the trunk that Pat did take off a few branches to keep the tree in a topiary form.

The tree can be successfully grown in containers and placed either inside or outside.  It is an evergreen and extremely hardy.  The past couple of winter freezes have had no affect on the tree, and it has withstood Texas heat and drought.

Buds on the Sweet Bay Laurel will bloom in spring
Interesting Facts and Other Uses

The bay tree was apparently sacred to the Greek god of prophecy--Apollo.  His temple at Delphi had its roof made of bay leaves so he would be protected from disease.  The Laurel is associated with the Greeks as they fashioned the waxy green leaves into wreaths to adorn their heads.  Later the image of the leaves were transformed into architectural moldings.  Romans associated the bay leaf with wisdom and glory.  The term laureate means "crowned with laurels" and is associated with poet laureate and baccalaureate.

There are other uses for the herb.  This is perhaps the best news I've had in a long time:  place a bay leaf in flour to deter weevils.  Bay leaves can be used to flavor vinegar.  Martha Stewart likes to spray the leaves gold to make wreaths at Christmastime.  The cuttings after pruning can be used to accent herb wreaths as well.  And I would almost bet that a twig or two of bay leaves would add a nice accent to a floral arrangement. 

1 comment:

  1. I find the scent of bay leaves delightful and would love to try one in a container in our zone 5. You're lucky to be able to grow yours in the ground. It's such a pretty little tree, and how nice to have a fresh supply of bay leaves on hand.
    Thanks for visiting and saying hello :) The birds are our very best entertainment during the long NY winters.