Bays, Laurels, Myrtles? Clarification.
I had a reader link to this blog from a post I'd made a few years ago on the subject of "bay laurel" trees. That page of the site is no longer open to comments, or I would correct my comment there. I assumed a bay was a bay was a bay. That was in 2013, and I've learned a lot since then!
- The author of that article was referring to Laurus nobilis the Mediterranean native known as bay or bay laurel, or sweet bay. They do well in containers, but would need to be brought indoors during the winter. I do not have a window sunny enough for that.
- The tree I grew up with is Umbellularia californica, or California bay, California bay myrtle, or Oregon myrtle. This is the source of the beautiful mytlewood, as it's called in Oregon, used by woodworkers. The California bay leaves can be used in cooking, as can the sweet bay leaves, but they are much, much stronger, so use less. I picked leaves off the trees (to dry and use for cooking) at my childhood home before leaving it to the new owner, who, going by mapping site photos, cut down many of the native trees planted (in some cases, large oaks grown from acorns) by my father.
Both types of bay can be grown in containers. Use the largest containers possible, as they will grow to between 4' and 6' high! Not large considering given their space"Laurus nobilis can reach 35' and record California bays have been 100'! Plan for them living decades, in containers or the ground.
Umbellularia californica is on my "want" list for next year.