Laurus nobilis, True Laurel, Sweet Bay,
Hebrew: ער אציל, Arabic: نبات الغار

Scientific name:  Laurus nobilis L.
Common name:  True Laurel, Sweet Bay
Hebrew name:   ער אציל
Arabic name:  نبات الغار
Plant Family:  Lauraceae, עריים

Laurus nobilis, True Laurel, Sweet Bay,نبات الغار , ער אציל

Life form:  Phanerophyte, tree
Stems:  7.5m or more; smooth, olive green to black bark; very slow growing
Leaves:  Alternate, entire
Inflorescence:  An axillary cyme or raceme of small pale yellow flowers
Flowers:  Dioecious, pale yellow with 4 petals fused at the base; female flowers, few, superior ovary with one loculus; male flowers, numerous, usually 10-12 stamens which are attached to the corolla
Fruits / pods:  Drupe, small, shiny black berries about 1 cm long
Flowering Period:   March, April, May
Habitat:  Mediterranean maquis and forest
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Montane vegetation of Mt. Hermon
Chorotype:  Mediterranean
Summer shedding:  Perennating

פרחים וצמחי בר, דיווחי פריחה

Derivation of the botanical name:
Laurus, laurel.
nobilis, notable, famous.
The Hebrew name: ער, ar is in the Talmud, the plant is referred to as "Trepa Dera" in Aramaic. The Latin name of the genus ar, Laurus (awake), derives from the name of laura which means a place of monasticism for monks.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
"...I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele. The rich- haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father, and fostered and nurtured him carefully in the dells of Nyssa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet- smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry..."
quote from Homeric Hymn To Dionysus, (Homer, Greek - Hómeros, 800 BC - 700 BC)

Daphne, a Naiad nymph, was loved by the god Apollo who pursued her until she grew exhausted, cried out to Gaia for help and was transformed into a laurel tree.
A Laurel wreath, sacred to Apollo, from the city of Tempe, in Thessaly, was the award for the Pythian games, one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. The games hosted poetry and music competitions besides the staple of athletic events.
The musical disciplines included:
  • One Hymn addressed to the Apollo God
  • Flute and Kithara (an old Greek string instrument) with or without singing
  • Acting and Dance Competitions
  • Painting Competitions
The term `bacca-laureate` (meaning, `Laurel berries`, the ancient symbol of victory) signified the completion of a bachelor degree. Baccalaureate from Medieval Latin baccalaureātus (influenced by bacca, berry, and lauretus, crowned with laurel), from baccalārius, bachelor. Baccalauréat is France's national secondary-school (lycée) diploma.
Pliny the Elder, Gaius or Caius Plinius Secundus, (23CE –79 CE) wrote in Naturalis Historia: "The tree was especially reserved for triumphs and is certainly much favoured in houses; it is the guardian of the doorways of emperors and high priests, where it hangs alone adorning their homes and keeping a vigil before the treshold. Visitors to Delphi are crowned with laurel, as are generals celebrating a triumph at Rome.
The laurel itself is a messenger of peace, inasmuch as holding out a branch of laurel, even between enemy armies, is a sign of a truce".

The dried leaves of the Laurus nobilis are an important ingredient of both sweet and savory dishes in European cuisine.
Leaves are used in packing dried figs and licorice in order to deter weevils.
In Israel the Laurus nobilis is a constituent of the Common Oak Forest (Quercus calliprinos)

See the list of Medicinal herbs in Israel, the parts used and their medical uses to treat various diseases.

Bay laurel, cultivated throughout the Mediterranean basin, was one of the most important symbolic plants for the Greeks and Romans. Bay leaf crowns were symbols of wisdom and glory for athletes and emperors. Zohary (1982) noted that this tree was particularly esteemed by the ancient Greeks, whose heroes were adorned with laurel garlands. Bay laurel leaves are evergreen and have a pleasant spicy fragrance. Elmes (1826) and Moltke (1952) (based on Pliny) suggested that that these features may explain why Greeks and Romans used bay laurel leaves to adorn the brows of their priests, poets, and heroes, including the victors in the Pythian and Olympian Games. Similarly, bay laurel was a mark of distinction for certain high offices and political functions. In addition, Elmes (1826) noted the use of laurel as a kind of ancient medal.

Bible resources:
  1. Psalm 37:35
    I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.