Bay Tree. Also known as Grevian Laurel, Sweet Bay, True Laurel, Laurel.
This is a strong, slow growing, drought tolerant, evergreen tree which can grow up to around 5 metres tall.
It will be happy in the ground or in a pot, especially if the pot is located in a sheltered position and watered regularly. As with most plants, if kept in a pot it will not reach it’s full height. It can be allowed to grow on it’s own or it can be pruned into a hedge or topiary.
The leaves are a popular seasoning and spice and can be used in all kinds of cooking. While they can be cultivated at any time of the year, they are at their strongest right before blooming. They can be used fresh or dried to remove some of the bitterness. If drying the leaves, they have a shelf life of about one year. The wood can also be burnt to create a smoky flavouring in the cooking.
Medicinally, the bay leaf is said to assist in soothing stomach pains and relieve flatulence. Extracts are also used to possibly alleviate arthritis and rheumatism when massaged into the area.