BAY (Laurus Nobilis)
Also known as: Bay laurel, sweet bay, green bay, Grecian bay, Roman bay
Plant type: Evergreen tree
Sacred to the sun god Apollo, whose temple was built in a grove of bay trees, bay was thought to protect one from all harm, including lightning strikes and epilepsy, and impart virtue. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was used to crown emperors, honoured statesmen, esteemed poets, admired philosophers, and victorious athletes.
Safety First: While bay laurel is safe, other plants called laurel like the
American Native Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), are poisonous.
Uses: Bay is an antibacterial herb and a fungicide. It has many uses, including dry and simmering potpourri, sachets, air fresheners, and washing waters; it repels cockroaches and other insects. Extract it in water, vinegar, alcohol, or ammonia. Putting whole bay leaves into jars of stored grains and beans prevents the eggs of weevils from hatching.
In the garden: This 40 to 60 foot, smooth-barked evergreen tree has a spread of 30 feet, but when grown in a container it usually reaches only about 6 feet. Bay has pointed, tough, shiny, dark green leaves. Its small, greenish yellow flowers bloom in June and July. Mature plants produce blackish-purple berries about 1/2 inch in diameter. Grow bay as a container plant in colder climates so that you can winter it indoors. You can propagate bay by taking4-inch, semi-hardwood cuttings in autumn, but it’s notoriously slow to root, so you may prefer to purchase a plant. Potted bays are susceptible to scale and spider mites, so check plants carefully before purchasing. If you live in a warm climate, plant it in a sunny to mostly sunny spot, in good, well-drained soil with a pH of 4.5 to 8.2.
Harvesting: Harvest a few leaves at a time, and use them fresh or lay am flat to dry.
Drying time will vary with your climate, up to two Weeks. Leaves are dry when they are brittle enough to snap easily. Store them in glass jars or tins in a cool dark place.
Culpepper Says: This a tree of the sun, and under the celestial sign Leo,
Galen said that the leaves or bark do dry and heal very much, and the berries are more effective than the leaves; the bark of the root is less sharp and hot and is used to clear obstructions of the liver, spleen, and other organs. The berries are very effectual against jaundice and dropsy, and can neutralise the poison of venomous creatures like wasps and hornets.
They can help all cold and rheumatic symptoms and if made into a lotion with honey, can help persistant coughs, and shortness of breath. They expel wind, and urine, and kill worms. The leaves also work the like the berries. A bath of the decoction of leaves and berries is particularly good for low mood, or for diseases of the bladder, pains in the bowels by wind and difficulty passing urine. A decoction of equal parts of Bay-berries, cumin seed, Hyssop, Oregano, and Euphorbia, with honey, can be used to bathe the head to soothe pains and headaches, and can also improve poor appetites. The oil made from the berries is very good for all cold symptoms, nerves, anxiety, and stomach cramp or aches,
SHOULD NOT BE USED BY PREGNANT WOMEN!!!