Scientific: Laurus nobilis
Common: laurel bay, sweet bay
Family: Lauraceae
Origin: Mediterranean region

Pronounciation: La-U-rus NO-blis

Hardiness zones
5-9, 12-24
USDA 8-11

Landscape Use: Background, screen, espalier, medicinal and culinary herb.

Form & Character: Seldom seen evergreen large shrub to tree, formal, stiff, dense, often cone-like in form.

Growth Habit: Very slow to establish, eventually upright, 12 to 40 feet in height depending on site conditions and water availability. In Phoenix, the eventual height will be 20 feet or less due the extreme summer climate.

Foliage/Texture: Strongly aromatic, oval to elliptic leaves, thick and leathery to 3 to 4 inches long, tapering to a acuminate tip; medium texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Small yellowish axillary flowers, fruit are 1/2 to 1 inch long drupes, black when ripe.

Seasonal Color: None of significance

Temperature: Struggles with the intense summer heat when temperatures rise above 105oF.

Light: Partial sun (best in Phoenix) to full sun and western exposures; eastern exposures best.

Soil: Tolerant of all but most alkaline local soils

Watering: Regular

Pruning: Prune to desired shape depending on use. Laurel bay can be clipped into formal shapes.

Propagation: Cutting, seed

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: This is the cooking herb. A spicy, aromatic flavoring, bay leaves are commonly used as a flavoring for soups, stews etc and form an essential ingredient of the herb mix 'Bouquet Garni'. The leaves can be used fresh or are harvested in the summer and dried. The flavor of freshly dried, crushed or shredded leaves is stronger than fresh leaves, but the leaves should not be stored for longer than a year since they will then lose their flavor. The dried fruit is used as a flavoring. The dried leaves are brewed into a herbal tea. There are several cultivated varieties incuding 'Saratoga' and 'Emerald Wave' (from Monrovia Nursery).