The beautiful evergreen Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Family: Lauraceae) tree may grow in its native Mediterranean area as tall as 40 to 60 feet. Its thick, glossy, smooth, elliptical leaves measure from one to four inches in length and up to one inch in width. They are both the plant's beauty and its use.
The bay leaf is an almost indispensable member of the small bunch of fresh herbs called bouquet garni. It is used in many marinades; in most picking spice combinations; with meat, fish, and game; and in soups and stews. It is a strong herb and should be used with restraint. When cooking, leave the leaf whole and always remove it from the dish before serving.
In the Midwest or colder climate, a bay laurel tree does best in a pot, with a recommended soil mixture of equal parts loam, sand, and peat moss, mixed with cow manure. The tree is propagated by cuttings of ripened root, and may take six to nine months to root.