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Jeweled casket with laurel base; MFA# 2000.628.2
Laurel branch
MFA# 2000.1003


An aromatic evergreen tree, Laurus nobilis, native to the Mediterranean region. The laurel tree, or bay laurel, is grown commercially for the aromatic oil that is pressed from its berries. The leaves are used for cooking as well as medicinally as an aqueous extract. The wood from the laurel tree is strong and elastic. It is typically used for small novelties, carving and marquetry.

See also California laurel.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Laurus nobilis; laurier (Fr.); laurel (Esp.); loureiro vulgar (Port.); alloro (It.); bay laurel; sweet bay; wax myrtle

Laurel tree

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Variable evergreen shrub or small tree (7-18 m).
  • Leaves=elliptical (6-12 cm) and aromatic when crushed.
  • Fruit =berry-like drupe (1 cm) that contains one seed
  • Density = 50 ppcf

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965

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