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Plant description:

The bay laurel is a large shrub or small tree that is grown for its aromatic foliage and lovely pyramidal shape. Its dark green, leathery leaves form a dense shrub. The flowers are small and insignificant, and followed by black, rounded seeds. It is rather slow growing, but worth the effort. New foliage might suffer frost burn in areas with severe frost but this never causes lasting damage. The bay laurel makes an excellent ornamental plant for a container on a sunny patio and thrives in Western Cape coastal regions.

Family:  Lauraceae

Botanical Pronunciation: LAW-rus no-BIL-is

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Botanical name

Laurus nobilis

Plant Care



Common name(s)

Bay tree



 The plant has dark-green, leathery leaves

Uses in landscape design

The highly ornamental foliage makes this an excellent screening and hedge shrub, as well as a very good windbreak. It tolerates dry spells. Also it makes an ideal container plant. The leaves can be used in cooking, either fresh or dried.

Planting instructions

Planting: Dig a hole 60cm square and deep. Mix two thirds of the topsoil with one third compost in the bottom of the hole, add one cup of bone meal or superphosphate and mix well.
Watering and feeding: Water and feed regularly until well established, where after it does not need a lot of attention.
Pruning: Can be pruned into a standard or a formal hedge.

Soil conditions

Prefers moist, well-drained soil.


The leaves are dried and used for flavouring meat dishes in many different kinds of cooking. They form an integral part of bouquet garnish and pickling spice. The leaves can even be used to keep any type of grain fresh in tins or jars.
The leaves can be used to make an insect repellent.
Medicinal – Bay trees have been used through the centuries an antiseptic, digestive and anti-rheumatic. Pharmacists use to make ointments, salves, lotions and washes from bay leaves, even veterinary ointments were made.

Interesting planting ideas

Makes an excellent ornamental plant for a container on a sunny patio.
Bay trees give dense shade and is a heavy feeder, so don't grow it near a vegetable garden.

Interesting info

In medieval times, bay trees were planted near churches homes and fields as protection against witchcraft, demons, evil and illness.


Propagate by seed sown in spring or with hardwood cuttings taken in autumn.Plant cuttings in well-drained soil and keep them moist until they start to grow well.


The leaves can be picked any time and used fresh or dried

When to sow

 The plant has dark-green, leathery leaves

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