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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, High Altitudes, Cultivated, Native of Mediterranean Region"
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Tamil Nadu: Nilgiri
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Tree
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Ecology

Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Acrodictyopsis dematiaceous anamorph of Acrodictyopsis lauri is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Ampulliferina dematiaceous anamorph of Ampulliferina lauri is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, indistinctly clypeate perithecium of Anthostomella spartii is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse or discrete colony of Anungitea dematiaceous anamorph of Anungitea fragilis is saprobic on dead litter of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 5-9

Foodplant / pathogen
Armillaria mellea s.l. infects and damages Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / sap sucker
hypophyllous, colonial Aspidioterus nerii sucks sap of live leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Beltrania dematiaceous anamorph of Beltrania querna is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Beltraniella dematiaceous anamorph of Beltraniella pirozynskii is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6

Foodplant / spinner
caterpillar of Cacoecimorpha pronubana spins live leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / feeds on
Calepitrimerus russoi feeds on reddish brown or bronze mottled leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent pycnidium of Camarosporium coelomycetous anamorph of Camarosporium lauri is saprobic on dead twig of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Camposporium dematiaceous anamorph of Camposporium antennatum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Campsosporium anamorph of Campsosporium antennatum is saprobic on dead wood of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Campsosporium anamorph of Campsosporium cambrense is saprobic on dead wood of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Campsosporium anamorph of Campsosporium pellucidum is saprobic on dead wood of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Chalara dematiaceous anamorph of Chalara fungorum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Chalara dematiaceous anamorph of Chalara fusidioides is saprobic on dead Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Chalara dematiaceous anamorph of Chalara hughesii is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Circinotrichum dematiaceous anamorph of Circinotrichum britannicum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6

Foodplant / sap sucker
hypophyllous Coccus hesperidum sucks sap of live leaf (near veins) of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, numerous, gregarious pycnidium of Coleophoma coelomycetous anamorph of Coleophoma cylindrospora is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 4-5

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Corynespora dematiaceous anamorph of Corynesporopsis uniseptata is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Cylindrotrichum dematiaceous anamorph of Cylindrotrichum clavatum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Cylindrotrichum dematiaceous anamorph of Cylindrotrichum oligospermum is saprobic on dead Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, pseudoplurilocular pycnidium of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Cytospora lauri is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Dactylaria anamorph of Dactylaria obtriangularia is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 9

Foodplant / pathogen
very numerous, gregarious but hardly crowded, immersed, raising the epidermis pycnidium of Phompsis coelomycetous anamorph of Diaporthe nobilis infects and damages cankered bark of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 4-9

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Dictyochaeta dematiaceous anamorph of Dictyochaeta simplex is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 4-6

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Diplocladiella dematiaceous anamorph of Diplocladiella scalaroides is saprobic on fallen, dead, decaying leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed pycnidium of Diplodia coelomycetous anamorph of Diplodia laurina is saprobic on dead twig of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Endophragmiella dematiaceous anamorph of Endophragmiella lauri is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Ganoderma applanatum parasitises live trunk of Laurus nobilis
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Ganoderma australe is saprobic on dead trunk of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent acervulus of Gloeosporidiella coelomycetous anamorph of Gloeosporidiella nobilis is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces orontii parasitises live Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Hemibeltrania dematiaceous anamorph of Hemibeltrania mitrata is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial, sessile to subsessile apothecium of Hyaloscypha mirabilis is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial stroma of Hypocrea splendens is saprobic on dead branch of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 9-10

Foodplant / saprobe
epiphyllous, opening by little lid apothecium of Hysterostegiella lauri is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 5-6

Foodplant / sap sucker
Icerya purchasi sucks sap of live Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Idriella dematiaceous anamorph of Idriella grisea is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Isthmolongispora anamorph of Isthmolongispora minima is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
thyriothecium of Lichenopeltella ammophilae is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
amphigenous, gregarious, subepidermal perithecium of Massarina papulosa is saprobic on dead leaf of litter of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, becoming erumpent perithecium of Melanospora longisetosa is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
Melanospora pegleri is saprobic on fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Meripilus giganteus is saprobic on dead trunk (large) of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, becoming erumpent pycnidium of Microsphaeropsis coelomycetous anamorph of Microsphaeropsis olivacea is saprobic on branch of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
thyriothecium of Microthyrium fagi is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
thyriothecium of Microthyrium lauri is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Mollisia rehmii is saprobic on fallen, dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent, solitary perithecium of Nectriella consolationis is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 6

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous conidial anamorph of Oidium lauracearum parasitises live leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed stroma of Ceuthospora coelomycetous anamorph of Phacidium multivalve is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 1-4

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Phaeoisaria dematiaceous anamorph of Phaeoisaria clavulata is saprobic on rotten wood of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / spot causer
scattered, epiphyllous pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta lauri causes spots on leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 11-12

Foodplant / spot causer
mycelium of Phytophthora ramorum causes spots on leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
becoming superficial, scattered pycnidium of Pleurophoma coelomycetous anamorph of Pleurophoma pleurospora is saprobic on dead Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 3,11

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Polyscytalum dematiaceous anamorph of Polyscytalum fecundissimum is saprobic on rotting leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Polyscytalum anamorph of Polyscytalum gracilisporum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Priophorus pallipes grazes on leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
hypophyllous colony of Pseudocercospora dematiaceous anamorph of Pseudocercospora unicolor is saprobic on leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Pseudomicrodochium anamorph of Pseudomicrodochium lauri is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Pterygosporopsis dematiaceous anamorph of Pterygosporopsis fragilis is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / sap sucker
hypophyllous Pulvinaria floccifera sucks sap of live leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / sap sucker
Pulvinaria regalis sucks sap of live branch of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
pycnidium of Pyrenochaeta coelomycetous anamorph of Pyrenochaeta nobilis is saprobic on dead Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Pyricularia dematiaceous anamorph of Pyricularia lauri is saprobic on leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
floccose colony of Septofusidium anamorph of Septofusidium elegantulum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Sesquicillium anamorph of Sesquicillium candelabrum is saprobic on litter of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Sporidesmiella dematiaceous anamorph of Sporidesmiella parva is saprobic on dead Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 9

Foodplant / saprobe
discrete or effuse colony of Subramaniomyces dematiaceous anamorph of Subramaniomyces fusisaprophyticus is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 8

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Subulispora dematiaceous anamorph of Subulispora britannica is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Subulispora anamorph of Subulispora minima is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Tetraposporium dematiaceous anamorph of Tetraposporium ravenelii is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Tricladium anamorph of Tricladium castaneicola is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / gall
Trioza alacris causes gall of curled, thick edged leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: late spring-
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, in groups of about 10 perithecium of Valsa ceratosperma is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis
Remarks: season: 11-3

Foodplant / saprobe
sporodochium of Weisneriomyces dematiaceous anamorph of Wiesneriomyces laurinus is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Zygosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Zygosporium echinosporum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

Foodplant / saprobe
colony of Zygosporium anamorph of Zygosporium gibbum is saprobic on dead leaf of Laurus nobilis

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Laurus nobilis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Laurus nobilis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 88
Specimens with Barcodes: 102
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Wikipedia

Laurus nobilis

For the California Bay Laurel, see Umbellularia. For the Cherry Laurel, see Prunus laurocerasus.
"Laurels" redirects here. For the greyhound race, see Laurels (greyhounds).

Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel, sweet bay, bay tree (esp. United Kingdom), true laurel, Grecian laurel,[1] laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture.

Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called "bay" or "laurel", generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae.

Characteristics[edit]

A laurel shrub
Laurus nobilis in pot


The laurel can vary greatly in size and height, sometimes reaching 10–18 metres (33–59 ft) tall. Laurus is a genus of evergreen trees belonging to the Laurel family, Lauraceae. The genus includes three species, whose diagnostic key characters often overlap (Mabberley 1997).

The laurel is dioecious , with male and female flowers on separate plants.[2] Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm diameter, and they are borne in pairs beside a leaf. The leaves are 6–12 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an entire (untoothed) margin. On some leaves the margin undulates.[2] The fruit is a small, shiny black berry-like drupe about 1 cm long[2] that contains one seed.[3]

A recent study found considerable genetic diversity within L. nobilis, and that L. azorica is not genetically or morphologically distinct.[4]

Ecology[edit]

Further information: Laurel forest

Laurus nobilis is a widespread relic of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, Canary Islands and in Madeira.

Chemical constituents[edit]

Lauris nobilis essential oil in clear glass vial

The most abundant component found in laurel essential oil is 1,8-cineole, also called eucalyptol.[2] The leaves contain about 1.3% essential oils (ol. lauri folii), consisting of 45% eucalyptol, 12% other terpenes, 8-12% terpinyl acetate, 3–4% sesquiterpenes, 3% methyleugenol, and other α- and β-pinenes, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol, and terpineol.

Both essential and fatty oils are present in the fruit. The fruit is pressed and water-extracted to obtain these products. The fruit contains up to 30% fatty oils and about 1% essential oils (terpenes, sesquiterpenes, alcohols, and ketones).

Food[edit]

The plant is the source of several popular herbs and one spice used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines.[2] Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are added whole to Italian pasta sauces. However, even when cooked, whole bay leaves can be sharp and abrasive enough to damage internal organs,[5] so they are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish.[6] Whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity.[6] Bay leaves are used almost exclusively as flavor agents during the food preparation stage;

Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody Mary.[6] Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and even the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavoring.[6]

Traditional medicine[edit]

Aqueous extracts of bay laurel can also be used as astringents and even as a reasonable salve for open wounds.[7]

In massage therapy, the essential oil of bay laurel is reputed to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism, while in aromatherapy, it is used to treat earaches and high blood pressure.[8][unreliable source?] A traditional folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves.[9]

The chemical compound lauroside B isolated from Laurus nobilis is an inhibitor of human melanoma (skin cancer) cell proliferation at high concentrations.[10]

Other uses[edit]

Bay is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in regions with Mediterranean or oceanic climates, and as a house plant or greenhouse plant in colder regions. It is used in topiary to create single erect stems with ball-shaped, box-shaped or twisted crowns; also for low hedges. Together with a gold form, L. nobilis 'Aurea',[11] it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[12]

Laurel oil is a main ingredient, and the distinguishing characteristic of Aleppo soap.

Symbolism[edit]

Europe

Bay laurel was used to fashion the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, a symbol of highest status. A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games because the games were in honor of Apollo, and the laurel was one of his symbols.

The symbolism carried over to Roman culture, which held the laurel as a symbol of victory.[13] It is also the source of the words baccalaureate and poet laureate, as well as the expressions "assume the laurel" and "resting on one's laurels". Ovid tells the story in the Metamorphoses that laurel tree was first formed when the nymph Daphne was changed into a laurel tree because of Apollo's pursuit of her. Daphne is the Greek name for the tree.[14]

In the Bible, the laurel is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christian tradition, it symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.

East Asia

An early Chinese etiological myth for the phases of the moon involved a great forest or tree which quickly grew and lost its leaves and flowers every month. After the Sui and Tang dynasties, this was sometimes connected to a woodsman named Wu Gang, sentenced to cut at a self-repairing tree as a punishment for varying offenses. The tree was originally identified as a (guì) and described in the terms of the osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans, now known in Chinese as the 桂花 or "gui flower"), whose blossoms are still used to flavor wine and confections for the Mid-Autumn Festival. However, in English, it is often associated with the more well-known cassia (Cinnamomum cassia, now known in Chinese as the 肉桂 or "meat gui") while, in modern Chinese, it has instead become associated with the Mediterranean laurel. By the Qing dynasty, the chengyu "pluck osmanthus in the Toad Palace" (蟾宫折桂, Chángōng zhé guì) meant passing the imperial examinations,[15][16][17] which were held around the time of the lunar festival. The similar association in Europe of laurels with victory and success led to its translation into Chinese as the 月桂 or "Moon gui".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, R.W. (1956). Composition of scientific words: A manual of methods and a lexicon of materials for the practice of logotechnics. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Vaughan, p.150.
  3. ^ Konstantinidou, E.; Takos, I.; Merou, T. (2008). "Desiccation and storage behavior of bay laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) seeds". European Journal of Forest Research 127 (2): 125–131. doi:10.1007/s10342-007-0189-z. 
  4. ^ Arroyo–García, R., Martínez–Zapater, J. M.., Fernández Prieto, J. A., & Álvarez–Arbesú, R. (2001). "AFLP evaluation of genetic similarity among laurel populations (Laurus L.)". Euphytica 122: 155–164. doi:10.1023/A:1012654514381?LI=true (inactive 2014-11-22). 
  5. ^ M. Moghtader and H. Salari (March 26, 2012). "Comparative survey on the essential oil composition from the leaves and flowers of Laurus nobilis L. from Kerman province". Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment Vol. 4. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Green, p.19.
  7. ^ Nayak, et al. (2006).
  8. ^ Encyclopedia of Herbs. "Bay Laurel: Laurus nobilis". AllNatural.net. Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  9. ^ Wood, p.43.
  10. ^ Panza, E; Tersigni, M; Iorizzi, M; Zollo, F; De Marino, S; Festa, C; Napolitano, M; Castello, G et al. (2011). "Lauroside B, a megastigmane glycoside from Laurus nobilis (bay laurel) leaves, induces apoptosis in human melanoma cell lines by inhibiting NF-κB activation". Journal of Natural Products 74 (2): 228–33. doi:10.1021/np100688g. PMID 21188975. 
  11. ^ "RHS Plant Selector – Laurus nobilis 'Aurea'". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "RHS Plant Selector – Laurus nobilis". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  13. ^ De Cleene, p.129.
  14. ^ Edith Hamilton, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (1942)
  15. ^ Brendon, Juliet & al. The Moon Year: A Record of Chinese Customs and Festivals, p. 410. Kelly & Walsh, 1927. Reprinted Routledge (Abingdon), 2011. Accessed 13 November 2013.
  16. ^ Zdic. "蟾宫折桂". 2013. Accessed 13 November 2013. (Chinese)
  17. ^ 杜近芳 [Du Jinfang]. 《红楼梦汉英习语词典》 ["A Dictionary of Chinese Idioms in the Dream of the Red Chamber"]. 2003. Accessed 13 November 2013. (English) & (Chinese)

Examples of biological activity of bay laurel[edit]

  • Simic, M; Kundaković, T; Kovacević, N (September 2003). "Preliminary assay on the antioxidative activity of Laurus nobilis extracts". Fitoterapia 74 (6): 613–6. doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(03)00143-6. PMID 12946729. 
  • Sayyah, M.; Saroukhani, G.; Peirovi, A.; Kamalinejad, M. (August 2003). "Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis Linn.". Phytother Res 17 (7): 733–6. doi:10.1002/ptr.1197. PMID 12916069. 
  • Sayyah, M; Valizadeh, J; Kamalinejad, M (April 2002). "Anticonvulsant activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis against pentylenetetrazole- and maximal electroshock-induced seizures". Phytomedicine 9 (3): 212–6. doi:10.1078/0944-7113-00113. PMID 12046861. 
  • Talmud Bavli; Pessachim 56a: Laurel extract is used as part of a mixture to assist in grafting Palm trees.
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Bay leaf

Indian bay leaf Cinnamomum tamala
Indonesian bay leaf Syzygium polyanthum

Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaves of several plants used in cooking. These include:

  • Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.[1]
  • California bay leaf – the leaf of the California bay tree (Umbellularia californica, Lauraceae), also known as California laurel, Oregon myrtle, and pepperwood, is similar to the Mediterranean bay laurel, but has a stronger flavor.
  • Indian bay leaf or malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala, Lauraceae) is somewhat similar in appearance to the leaves of bay laurel, but is culinarily quite different, having a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon (cassia) bark, but milder.
  • Indonesian bay leaf or Indonesian laurel (salam leaf, Syzygium polyanthum, Myrtaceae) is not commonly found outside of Indonesia; this herb is applied to meat and, less often vegetables.[2]
  • West Indian bay leaf, the leaf of the West Indian bay tree (Pimenta racemosa, Myrtaceae), used culinarily and to produce the cologne called bay rum.
  • Mexican bay leaf (Litsea glaucescens, Lauraceae).

Contents

Taste and aroma

If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, which is a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf. They also contain the essential oil eugenol.[3]

Uses

Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in the Americas. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor many classic French dishes. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni) and removed before serving (they can be abrasive in the digestive tract). Thai cuisine employs bay leaf (Thai name bai kra wan) in a few Arab-influenced dishes, notably massaman curry.[4]

In Indian and Pakistani cuisine, bay laurel leaves are sometimes used in place of Indian bay leaf, although they have a different flavor. They are most often used in rice dishes like biryani and as an ingredient in garam masala. Bay (laurel) leaves are frequently packaged as tejpatta (the Hindi term for Indian bay leaf), creating confusion between the two herbs.

Bay leaves can also be crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove, and thus they are often used in a muslin bag or tea infuser. Ground bay laurel may be substituted for whole leaves, and does not need to be removed, but it is much stronger due to the increased surface area and in some dishes the texture may not be desirable.

Bay leaves can also be scattered in a pantry to repel meal moths,[5] flies,[citation needed] roaches,[citation needed] mice,[citation needed] and silverfish.[citation needed]

Bay leaves have been used in entomology as the active ingredient in killing jars. The crushed, fresh, young leaves are put into the jar under a layer of paper. The vapours they release kill insects slowly but effectively, and keep the specimens relaxed and easy to mount. The leaves discourage the growth of molds. They are not effective for killing large beetles and similar specimens, but insects that have been killed in a cyanide killing jar can be transferred to a laurel jar to await mounting.[6] It is not clear to what extent the effect is due to cyanide released by the crushed leaves, and to what extent other volatile products are responsible.

Safety

Some members of the laurel family, as well as the unrelated but visually similar mountain laurel and cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the oft-repeated belief that bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous. This is not true - bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effect. However, they remain very stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in large pieces, they may pose a risk of scratching the digestive tract or even causing choking. Thus, most recipes that use bay leaves will recommend their removal after the cooking process has finished.[7]

References

  1. ^ "Spice Trade: Bay Leaf". Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. http://www.spice-trade.com/bay-leaf.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  2. ^ "Spice Pages: Indonesian Bay-Leaf". http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Euge_pol.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  3. ^ "Encyclopedia of Spices: Bay Leaf". Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/bay.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  4. ^ Tan, Hugh T. W. (2005). Herbs & Spices of Thailand. Marshall Cavendish. p. 71.
  5. ^ "How to Repel Grain Moths with Bay Leaves". http://www.care2.com/greenliving/repel-grain-moths-with-bay-leaves.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  6. ^ Smart, John (1963). British Museum (Natural History) Instructions for Collectors NO. 4A. Insects. London: Trustees of the British Museum.
  7. ^ "Straight Dope: Are Bay Leaves Poisonous?". http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2695/what-is-the-origin-of-the-song-theres-a-place-in-france-where-the-naked-ladies-dance. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
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