Laurel plant

The history and origins of the laurĕa

Laurel was known to the ancient Romans as laurus or laurĕa (in some regions, especially in Southern Italy, it is still commonly called laurel) and represented victory, power and culture. During religious services it was customary to place a laurel wreath on the heads of poets and military leaders, to indicate their “higher” ranks, thus assuming an important symbolism in the social hierarchical scale. Many historical figures are well known today, such as Dante Alighieri, who used to wear laurel wreaths to outline their status. The modern meaning of the word degree derives precisely from the laurel, and the laurĕātus was the one who wore the crown. Currently it is still used, as a good omen, in some Italian regions to celebrate graduation.

Discovering laurel: the myth of Daphne

In Greek mythology, Daphne was a nymph who lived by rivers and streams. Endowed with grace and beauty, she was noticed by the sun god Apollo, who fell madly in love with her and went so far as to chase her through the woods. Intent on not giving in to Apollo’s love and frightened by his insistence, Daphne pleaded with the Gods to save her from the petulant god. Taking pity on the young nymph, the Gods accepted her prayers and turned her into a laurel tree. In Greek Daphne means laurel, which indicates precisely the laurel plant, the essence into which the nymph was transformed. Although there are different versions of this myth, legend has it that since then the god Apollo made the plant evergreen, often wearing a crown on his head, to indicate his love, never dormant, for Daphne.

Botanical notes

Laurel (scientific name Laurus nobilis) is an evergreen tree belonging to the Lauraceae family, native to the Mediterranean basin. It is a rustic plant, it can reach and exceed 10 meters in height and adapts very well to various types of soil; in many areas it grows spontaneously. The trunk and branches are dark green, sometimes blackish, and the leaves (shiny on the upper side and opaque on the lower side) oval and leathery in nature. The flowers are yellow and appear in spring, arranged like an umbrella on large inflorescences. When fully ripe, the fruits resemble small black berries. The most used part of the plant are the leaves, fresh or dried, which give off an intense aroma and with which many traditional dishes are seasoned. They are also used for making decoctions, ointments and other therapeutic preparations. In fact, bay leaves and berries contain numerous essential oils (such as geraniol, eucalyptol, cineole, as well as lauric acid), useful for treating or counteracting many disorders related to the gastro-intestinal system.

Laurel plant: Information and advice

Going to the discovery of laurel is, as well as pleasant, interesting in several ways. It is not only a typical ingredient and condiment (in fact it is grown mainly for this reason), but it has many healing, anti-cancer and soothing properties. The seeds and leaves contain the highest concentration of essential oils, vitamins A, B and C and mineral salts, useful against colic, meteorism, heartburn and stomach pain, nausea, treatment of febrile states, rheumatism and various traumas of the muscular system. skeletal. Lauric acid, present in the leaves, works as a repellent against insects and various types of arthropods. The cultivation of laurel is very simple, since it does not require particular climatic conditions. It can be planted by cuttings, but it fears severe frosts (in low temperate areas it is useful to cover it in winter). Even if it is a tree, annual pruning leads this species to act as a hedge or boundary wall, preventing it from reaching high heights.

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