LAURUS NOBILIS

LAURUS NOBILIS

FAMILY :: LAURACEAE
BAY LAUREL, NOBLE BAY, SWEET-BAY: The source of imported (see Umbelluliferae californica for domestic) bay leaf seasoning. During the Middle Ages, the leaves of this plant were used to resist witchcraft and to keep away evil and fleas. In ancient Greece it was sacred to the god Apollo and the leaves and seeds were burned as an incense to aid clairvoyancy and divination.

May be grown outdoors (as a tree to 30′) in most of the mild temperate and sub-tropical regions. In the northern latitudes, grow in a tub as a shrub. Easy to grow in most soils. Give sun or part shade and moderately rich, damp soil.

SASSAFRAS ALBIDUM

SASSAFRAS ALBIDUM

FAMILY :: LAURACEAE
SASSAFRAS, PAVAME: A large, aromatic, deciduous tree native to the southern Atlantic USA and probably one of the first North American medicinal herbs exported to Europe (in 1574). The root bark and wood are used as a Central Nervous System stimulant, and as an aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Contains the essential oil, safrole, once used as a flavoring (in soft drinks and opium compounds), and now used as a starting point in the synthesis of MDA and MDMA and other amphetamine-related drugs. Safrole is also considered carcinogenic.

UMBELLULARIA CALIFORNICA

UMBELLULARIA CALIFORNICA

FAMILY :: LAURACEAE
CALIFORNIA BAY, PEPPERWOOD: This is the major source of “bay leaf” seasoning sold in the USA. A large evergreen tree, it grows in canyons and damp, acid-soil forests. The local Pomo tribes in California ate the seeds (½” nuts) and used the leaves for curing headaches and for stomach aches, repelling fleas, easing rheumatism, and when burned on coals as incense, as a general disinfectant and cure-all.

This tree can take temperatures down to at least 10° f. It is more hardy than sweet bay, Laurus nobilis. Grows well, though slowly, in a pot.