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Bay Laurel

Drugs & Medication

Bay Laurel

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Bay Laurel
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) flowers and leaves
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) flowers and leaves
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Laurus
Species: L. nobilis
Binomial name
Laurus nobilis

The Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae), also known as True Laurel, Sweet Bay, Grecian Laurel, Laurel, or Bay Tree, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub reaching 1018 m tall, native to the Mediterranean region.

The leaves are 612 cm long and 24 cm broad, with a characteristic finely serrated and wrinkled margin. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants; each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm diameter, borne in pairs together beside a leaf. The fruit is a small black berry about 1 cm long, containing a single seed.

Uses and symbolism

Bay Laurel is the source of the bay leaves which are used for their flavour in cooking. It was also the source of the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, and therefore the expression of "resting on one's laurels". A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games. In the Bible, the sweet-bay is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. It is also the source of the word baccalaureate (laurel berry), and of poet laureate and indeed the qualification used as an equivalent to the English A-Level.

Some evidence from the medical literature supports Bay Laurel having these uses:

It is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in regions with mediterranean or oceanic climates, and as an indoor plant in colder regions.


Bay laurel leaves are used in the design of the 10 yen coin in Japan.

In Greek mythology, the tree was first formed when the nymph Daphne changed into it to escape the pursing Olympian God Apollo.

External links

  • MeSH: Laurus - Laurus nobilis (Bay Laurel)
  • MeSH: Umbellularia - Umbellularia californica (California Bay Laurel)
  • MeSH: 3-oxo-eudesma-1,4(15),11(13)triene-12,6alpha-olide [Substance Name]
  • MeSH: anhydroperoxycostunolide [Substance Name]
  • MeSH: magnolialide [Substance Name]
  • PubMed search: "Laurus"[MAJR]
  • PubMed search: "anhydroperoxycostunolide" OR "magnolialide" OR "3-oxo-eudesma-1,4(15),11(13)triene-12,6alpha-olide"

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