names: Sweet laurel; bay laurel; Appolo's bay leaf; wreath laurel
leaf, leaf of the sweet bay tree (Laurus nobilis). Is an evergreen
plant, indigenous to Asia Minor bordering the Mediterranean. Bay is
a tree of the sun under the celestial sign of Leo and has been cultivated
from ancient times; its leaves constituted the wreaths of laurel that
crowned emperors, heroes and victorious athletes in ancient Greece
and Rome. In Biblical times and also in the Middle Ages people associated
bay leaves with goodness and saw it as a protection against evil and
lightning. Today, the Grand Prix winner is decked with a laurel wreath
and the poet of the British Royal Household is given the title of
poet laureate. During the European Middle Ages bay leaves were used
tree is a large dense evergreen shrub or ornamental tree up to 15
m height. The leaves are large, glossy dark green, elliptical and
pointed (about 8 cm long and 3-4 cm wide). Small creamy - yellow flowers
appear in early summer, followed by dark-purple, black one-seeded
berries on mature plants.
trees grow in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Young plants are
sheltered from cold winds and frost. They are planted in early autumn
or spring and trimmed to shape in summer. Propagation is by layering
shoots or from cuttings of side roots. The leaves are harvested by
hand, dried in shallow layers in shade and lightly pressed flat. Ripe
berries are pressed for oil.
Bay leaves contain approximately 1.5 - 2.5 % essential oil, the principal
component of which is cineole. Bay oleoresin contains about 4 - 8
% volatile oil. Essential oil of bay is also available.
leaves are a popular culinary flavouring in classic and contemporary
cuisines which stimulates the appetite. A popular spice used in pickling
and marinating and to flavour stews, stuffings, and fish, bay leaves
are delicately fragrant but have a bitter taste. It is an essential
ingredient in many classic sauces.
smooth and lustrous dried bay leaves are usually used whole and then
removed from the dish after cooking; they are sometimes marketed in
powdered form. The crushed form is a major component in pickling spices
in processed meats and pickle industry. Ground bay is utilized in
many seasoning blends and products. Oil of bay and bay oleoresin are
used in soluble pickling spices.
and other use
leaf has legendary medicinal properties. It has astringent, diuretic
and digestive qualities and is a good appetite stimulant. When pulped
these leaves can be applied as an astringent to burns and bruises.
Oil from ripe berries is used in liqueurs, perfume and in veterinary
field. The acid from the leaves discourages moths.