Laurus nobilis
Common Name: bay laurel 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Lauraceae
Native Range: Northern Africa, western Asia, southern Europe
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 10.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to May
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Herb
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it is best grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. North of Zone 8, it may be grown in containers as a houseplant. Place containers outdoors in summer in part shade locations. Bring containers indoors before fall frost for overwintering in cool areas with bright light. Size and shape of this plant can easily be controlled by pruning.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Laurus nobilis, commonly called bay laurel, is native to the Mediterranean. It is a pyramidal, aromatic, evergreen tree or large shrub that grows to as much as 60’ tall, but is usually seen much smaller (10-30’ tall). For garden purposes, it is often pruned to 8’ tall or less. Leathery, thick, elliptic to oval, glossy dark green leaves (2-4” long) from this tree are commonly used as a culinary herb. Small yellowish green flowers bloom in spring. Trees are dioecious (separate male and female trees). Flowers on female plants, if pollinated, are followed by single-seeded purple-black berries. In ancient Greece, leaves of this tree were woven into wreaths to crown the victors of various contests.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for the laurel or bay.

Specific epithet means notable or excellent.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for scale (particularly on indoor plants), mealybugs and spider mites. Some susceptibility to anthracnose and powdery mildew. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants


Outdoors, it makes an interesting specimen for shady areas of the landscape including patios, herb gardens and woodland gardens. May be grown as a screen. Excellent houseplant.