bay laurel

Above and to the right:
a bay laurel located near Aldgate.

Trees of London

Bay laurel

              This tree is famous for two reasons: first, its leaf is used as flavouring in cooking, i.e. the bay leaf, and second; wreaths made of its leaves were used to crown the Roman emperors, 'the laurel wreath' and from this came the expression 'resting on his laurels' to express someone who is contented with what he has already achieved.

              Of course, this is a Mediterranean tree and when grown in Britain it is never quite the same as in its native habitat. It rarely fruits in Britain and the leaves never have much of a flavour, though they do have a recognizable odour. However, though it is rare in London, it is very common in gardens and parks in Britain, where it is mostly chopped to shape and used as an ornament, much like the holly tree.

by the entrance to a carpark bay laurel

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Tree Identification

Laurus nobilis:

alternate; evergreen; long, firm and pointed.
bay leaves: breaking them in half and smelling, reveals the aroma of Italian cuisine.

bay leaves
bay berries

very rarely fruit in Britain, but small round and black; grow amongst leaves.

bay flowers

small yellow clusters.

bay laurel bark bark:
smooth grey.
grows to 15 metres; usually shrubb like.
general: not common in central London, but common in parks, sometimes cutback to make ornamental shapes, as with the holly.

Aldgate Map

On the corner of Houndsditch and St Botolph street
at the entrance to a carpark.

Trees of London        A James Wilkinson Publication ©