Bay tree identification

The Bay tree Laurus nobilis, also known as Sweet Bay or Bay Laurel, is an evergreen shrub or tree that grows naturally in the Mediterranean region. It is recorded as having been cultivated in Britain since 1562. Bay tree identification is by leaf shape and colour, flowers in spring and small black berries on female trees in autumn. The leaves are used for seasoning in cooking and in Greek and Roman times were woven into wreaths to symbolise status or victory. It is often grown in clipped form in containers on patios. Bays have male flowers on one tree and female flowers on a different tree (dioecious). Click on any photo to enlarge it. 


Bay tree

Tree in October

Bay leaf

The evergreen leaves are dark green but with a light green underside. Leaves have no teeth.

Bay tree bark

Bark is smooth and grey

Bay male flowers
Male flowers in April. Each flower has from 8 to 12 stamens. Each stamen has 2 anthers at the top which open sideways to release pollen.
Bay female flowers

Close-up of female flowers, which have 4 yellow petals and one white style protruding from a green/red ovary. The female flowers are pollinated by bees, wasps and flies.

Bay tree bark

Berries are small and become black in autumn