Bay Laurel

The Sweet Bay Laurel is a Multi Purpose Tree with a Great many uses

Bay Laurel
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"The Sweet Bay Laurel is a Multi Purpose Tree with a Great many uses"
Caption: Bay Laurel
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Also known as Sweet Bay Laurel, this species is aromatic and evergreen: a large shrub-type tree with glossy leaves the Bay Laurel is scientifically known as Laurus nobilis and native to the Mediterranean.       

Bay leaves are the ones found in your Bolognese sauce to add flavour and spice to your meal, thus the odor of the leaf is instantly recognizable when rubbed. Sacred to Apollo in ancient Greece, the Bay Laurel tree was a symbol of the highest status; crowns of laurel leaves were traditionally offered to poets in honour of their achievements and this represents the origin of the Queen’s Poet Laureate.

Laurus nobilis is a broad-leafed species of tree that can reach up to 18 metres in height. Its laurel leaf is 6-12 cm long and up to 4 cm wide, thus, the world famous Bay Leaf has a finely-serrated and wrinkled margin. The fruit of the tree is a small, shiny black berry - a favourite of the mistle thrush in Springtime! 

Having gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit, the Bay Laurel really has made its mark - the oil of the leaf also has skin care properties with the main ingredient in Aleppo soap coming from the Bay leaf!

Being the source of several popular spices and seasonings, the bay leaf is used in a wide variety of recipes, but most commonly, these aromatic leaves are found in Italian pasta sauces. The leaf should always be removed before consumption but does add flavour to your meal. 

Ground bay leaves are often added to a Bloody Mary because they can then be ingested safely, thus the powder is also used in soups and stocks while the berries have been manufactured into candles and perfumes. The wood of the tree has also been used as fuel for smoking food; the bay laurel has a great many functions.

Aqueous extracts of the bay laurel can also be utilized for medicinal purposes such as astringents and salve which may be applied to an open wound or as an aid with homeopathy in massage therapy. The tree's essential oil is reputed to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism, while in aromatherapy, it has successfully been tried and tested as a treatment for earaches and high blood pressure.

Properties of the Bay Laurel mentioned above largely stem from traditional folk remedies used for rashes caused by poison ivy and stinging nettles passed down through the ages; a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves did the trick for many and now we have a-hundred-and-one ways to utilize the Sweet Bay Laurel!

More about this author: Alex Storey

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