Laurus nobilis

2 Apr

Laurus nobilis Topiary (30/03/2011, Kennington London)

Laurus nobilis Topiary (30/03/2011, Kennington London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist/ well drained

Flowering period: Spring

Eventual Height: 12m

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a

Family: Lauraceae

Laurus nobilis is an evergreen tree or shrub, broadly conical in habit. It has narrowly oval, leathery, glossy, dark green and extremely aromatic leaves. It bears small, star shaped, pale yellow flowers which are followed on female plants by globose to ovoid, green and then black fruit.

Laurus nobilis also known as the Bay Laurel or Sweet Laurel has a long history of cultivation for many uses. By far the most prolific is culinary, the leaves contain essential oils with a distinct flavour and aroma and once dried will keep at room temperature for up to a year. The whole leaves should not be consumed as they can tear the digestive tract even when cooked and should be removed prior to serving or ground into a paste or powder. In ancient Greece it was used to symbolize high status and was carried into Roman tradition where it symbolized victory. From the Romans it was brought into Christian tradition, where it symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. It is also the source of the words baccalaureate and poet laureate. Plant extracts can be used as diuretics as astringents, the essential oils are also used in massage therapy and aromatherapy.

Laurus nobilis flower (30/03/2011, Kennington, London)

Laurus nobilis flower (30/03/2011, Kennington, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Laurus is the old Latin name of the true Laurel. Nobilis is from the Latin meaning ‘noble’.

Laurus nobilis is very useful to the landscape architect as an ornamental plant that can be shaped into many forms, including a hedge, and when grown as a tree can attain a fine habit. Its stems may be plaited or trained into a spiral and despite its moderately large leaves it can be shaped into complicated forms, pictured is the standard ‘lollipop’ shape popular in garden centres. The plant must be planted in a sheltered location, as it is susceptible to cold and frost damage.

Ecologically, Laurus nobilis does not accommodate a wide variety of biodiversity as the essential oils act as a natural insect repellent.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given Laurus nobilis their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Laurus nobilis Leaf (12/09/2015, Walworth, London)

Laurus nobilis Leaf (12/09/2015, Walworth, London)

Laurus nobilis prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

If maintained as topiary Laurus nobilis should be trimmed with secateurs during summer to encourage a dense habit and to maintain a balanced shape. New shoots should be pruned to a bud facing in the direction of the desired growth. If maintaining as a hedge Laurus nobilis should be trimmed into shape by simply cutting back to a lower leaf or bud in spring or summer.

Davis Landscape Architecture



One Response to “Laurus nobilis”


  1. Plant of the Week: Persea palustris | landscape architecture Blog - 19/03/2013

    […] leaves are covered in rust coloured hairs. It leaves are fragrant when crushed, smelling similar to Laurus nobilis. New emerging leaves are red/ brown in colour. Its trunk may achieve a diameter of up to 45cm. Its […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: