- Family Lauraceae
- Laurus nobilis
- Bay, Bay Laurel, Laurel, Sweet Bay, True Laurel, Roman Laurel, Noble Laurel, Daphne, Bay Tree, Grecian Laurel, Sweet Laurel
Indigenous to Mediterranean countries, bay laurel is an aromatic evergreen shrub or tree, growing to about six feet producing leathery, dark green, aromatic leaves, small yellow male and female flowers, and shiny, black berries. The bark is smooth and olive green to black. It prefers damp, shady sites and is a popular garden herb, cultivated mainly for its culinary use.
In ancient Greece, the herb was used in divination by the Delphic Oracle.
Ancient Romans believed that the sudden withering of the tree spelled disaster for the household. However, that didn’t stop them from using the leaves as a medicine, a spice, and a decoration during the Saturnalia festivals held each winter.
It was held as a sacred plant of the gods Apollo and Aesculapius, who, together, oversaw healing and medicine.
Dioscorides, the 1st century Greek physician, wrote that the bark dissolved kidney stones and treated liver problems.
Source: Online Herbal Encyclopedia of Knowledge