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Plant Profile: Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Also known as bay laural, this aromatic evergreen shrub or small tree is native to  the Mediterranean region and a member of the laurel family, Lauraceae, that also includes sassafras, avocado, and cinnamon.  Plants grow up to 6-‘ in the wild but 5’ in a pot and have glossy, thick, leathery, dark green leaves that are 2-4″ long and elliptical to oval. In the spring, clusters of small greenish yellow male and female flowers appear in the leaf axils of different plants.  The flowers lack petals and are followed by dark purple or black, one-seeded berries the size of small grapes on female plants. The leaves are used fresh or dried as a culinary herb.  The ancient Greeks made wreaths of the leaves to crown the victors of games.  The trees can be pruned in various forms such as lollipops to provide interest and are attractive in borders and herb gardens.  The genus name, Laurus, is the ancient Latin name for the plant.  The specific epithet, nobilis, is the Latin word meaning excellent or noble. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Type: Woody perennial evergreen shrub or small tree

Bloom: Clusters of small yellow flowers produced in spring followed by shiny black or purple berries on female plants.

Size: 5’ (in pot)-60’ H x3-10′ W.

Light: Sun to partial shade.

Soil: Moderately rich, well-drained; pH 6.2.

Hardiness: Zones 7-10.

Care: Do not overwater.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to scale, bay sucker (Trioza alacris), and mildew.

Propagation: Semi-hardwood cuttings  in fall; layering; seeds difficult to germinate.

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