There's more to the story than the health aspect of bay leaf.
Do you know what makes a good guitar? Or what is railroad tie made of?
Wait! What do these have to do with bay leaf?
Let's dive in.
Here are the 5 lesser-known facts and uses of the Bay leaf plant.
1. There are 6 Different Varieties of Bay Leaf
First off, which bay leaf are you consuming?
Bay leaves plant grows in different parts of the world. They are of 6 types that either belongs to the Lauraceae family or the Myrtaceae family.
Read on and see which is the one you have.
The six different varieties of bay leaves are:
- Tej Patta or Indian Bay Leaf: It belongs to the Lauraceae family. It's a popular spice in Indian cuisine and a sought after ingredient in 'masala chai'. Traditionally used for making Ayurvedic medicines.
It grows in abundance in Northeast India, and in Nepal, Bhutan and Burma.
- Bay Laurel from Turkey: Bay laurel, also known as sweet bay, is also from Lauraceae family. It grows in the Mediterranean, France, Belgium, Central and Northern America, Turkey, Italy, Russia, Israel and India (Assam and other NE states).
- California bay leaf: California bay leaf or California laurel is like the Bay laurel but has a stronger flavour. It is also from the Lauraceae family and is native to Northwestern U.S. Coast Range.It is known by different names. Oregon people called the tree 'Oregon myrtle'. Other names associated with this are pepperwood, spicebush, cinnamon bush, peppernut tree, headache tree, mountain laurel, and balm of heaven.
- Indonesia bay leaf: Commonly known as Salam leaf or Balinese bay leaf, it belonged to the Myrtaceae family. It's a native of Sumatra, Java, and Bali. It has a faint smell compared to other bay leaf varieties. But its flavor is released when it undergoes a specific heat treatment.
- West Indian bay leaf: Indigenous to the Caribbean region, it belongs to Myrtaceae family. It is also known as bay rum tree, and ciliment. It has a strong aromatic flavor and its an important spice in Caribbean cuisine.
- Mexican bay leaf: This belongs to the Lauraceae family and is native to Mexico. It is used as a seasoning for Mexican dishes. It is also commonly used for various medicinal and religious purposes.
2. It Makes Excellent Tonewood
The wood of California Bay Leaf is considered a world-class tonewood. It is sought after by the makers of stringed instruments such as the violin or guitar. It is also used to construct the backs and sides of acoustic guitars. The wood gives a beautiful looking guitar that produces excellent over-tone harmonics.
3. It's A Popular Ornamental Tree
California Bay or L. nobilis is used as an ornamental plant. It can be trimmed to topiary shapes. The trunk can be trained into braids and spirals. It can also be grown in containers to add beauty in your patios.
The leaves of bay laurel are also used for decorative purposes. You can make beautiful wreaths during the holiday season. The leaves can also be a beautiful addition to your bouquets.
Ancient Greeks used laurel wreaths as a symbol of high status and triumph. They wear them as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck.
4. Bay Leaf Is A Natural Bug Repellent
It could be the smell or the essential oils from bay leaves (myrcene and eugenol) that makes it intolerant to insects and pest.
While bay leaves are safe for humans, they are toxic for bugs and pests. Sprinkle dried or powdered bay leaves around the corners of your homes to get rid of nuisance insects, like cockroaches, ants, weevils and fleas.
One traditional uses of bay leaves is to put them between the bed mattresses to get rid of or prevent flea infestations.
5. Used for Furniture & Woodworks
Since the wood of California Bay Leaf is hard, it is rendered useful by woodworkers for making wooden bowls, spoons, and other wooden specimens. It is also used as lumber in furniture making like tables, shelves, table legs, jewellery boxes, cabinet doors and more.
Historically, the railroad tie of the First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory, Utah (completed on May 10, 1869) was made from California bay laurel wood.
Like the bay leaf plant, nature gifted us with many such trees, herbs and plants. The different parts have their own uses — either as food or for leisure or pain reliever.
Next time you use bay leaf in your kitchen, you know there's much more to it.
Zizira believes in nature's treasures for health and wellness. We do our bit to share these with you.
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