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all about Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

 
Leah Sattler
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I want to know!

I know little about its cultivation except that you can grow it in a container. I assume people like to grow it in containers because it is not cold hardy but I am not sure.

Traditionally bay leaves are used to repel insects especially in stored grains etc.... however I am unaware whether the effectiveness of this use has ever been formally investigated. I am going to try the essential oil for flea and squash bug repellent.

Like many herbs there is alot of folklore surrounding its medicinal properties, some that are probably a stretch but some might be founded in truth!

It appears that some medicinal value is associated with it as an anti inflammatory and deserves some more attention and research. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12916069



 
                    
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Different species, but the California Bay (Umbellularia californica) tree has a really nice edible nut and flavorful leaves.  I've been told to roast them before eating and so have only eaten them roasted (the article below says they can be eaten raw if they are fully ripe), they are a mild stimulant and have an interesting, nutty-bitter coffee-like flavor.  The leaves contain 7.5% of the volatile oil!  You can use them in cooking like the european tree, but only use a quarter of a leaf per dish (or baby leaves which are much milder, can even be used in salads).  It's a similar but not quite the same flavor.  I'm sure the same bug repellent properties are to be had with these leaves. 

I mention it because it's hardier than the european bay - zone 7-8.  And the nuts are a major bonus!  And it's "native-r" to north america?  (not that I'm overly concerned about that)

"The shelled nuts can be eaten just roasted as described. They are akin to coffee and bitter chocolate, and are an instant hit with some while being reviled by others. A kind of chocolate can also be made from them. The nuts contain 40-60% of a waxy fat which behaves very much like cocoa butter."

http://www.paleotechnics.com/Articles/Bayarticle.html
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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we had a couple of sweet bay trees at work.  got too big and we yanked one out.  that's zone 7 and they never had trouble with the cold.  sometimes I put some leaves in my hat while I work.  smells nice.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I hadn't known about the nut! I'll have to talk to my parents next time I visit, they grow it as an ornamental (and use a few handsful of leaves a year in cooking).
 
                    
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People either love the nuts or think they're gross.  I tend to like bitter weird flavors, so I think they're good, but I don't eat them all the time.  Over roasting is no-bueno.  In their shells in skillet over a low fire works, so long as you poke them around a bit.  I've tried in the oven a couple of times but forget and burn them up.      I have a jar a friend collected for me...I should plant some and get one going here!  It'd probably live. 
 
jeremiah bailey
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I am growing Laurus nobilis in a pot. I got the plant last spring. It had four or five leaves on it. It now has 10 leaves and is a few inches taller. It is a rather slow growing shrub, so you'll probably want to purchase a larger specimen if you can't wait for a good supply of leaves.
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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I have a number of california bay growing naturally here.  I posted this study recently in the thread about fleas
http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/13/3/381

They are beautiful trees and coppice well. 
 
                    
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That's really cool about the rats and birds using aromatic foliage for parasite control!  A strong inhalation of the crushed leaves can give a person a headache....wouldn't surprise me that tiny creatures don't appreciate it. 
 
                    
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The aroma and taste of fresh bay leaves (noble bay)  is a thousand times better than the weak, pale stuff that is sold in supermarkets. I need to use mine more often - got a plant for a dollar about a decade ago, and it has formed a nice clump ... about 10' tall and probably 40 canes or stalks.
 
jeremiah bailey
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I need to get mine bigger with more foliage before I start harvesting.
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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I have 25 calif.bay laurals planted in part shade that are slowly creating an evergreen hedge.I planted them after reading how the natives in california used it for flea/lice control as well as roofing on temp. housing.I havent had luck with true bay here in zone 7 but am trying a willow leaved form this year as I have heard its hardier!
 
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