Illustrated Architecture Dictionary ...................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Bay leaves / Laurel leaves

Bay: A stylized laurel leaf used in the form of a garland to decorate molding

The Greek name of laurel - Daphne - salutes the nymph who, on being pursued by Apollo, asked the other gods to help. They turned her into the laurel tree which has, ever since, remained under the protection of all the gods in Olympus.

Bay Laurel is the source of the spice bay leaves. It was also the source of the Laurel wreath of ancient Greece, and therefore the expression of "resting on one's laurels". A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games. It is also the source of the word baccalaureate (laurel berry) and thus bachelor, and of poet laureate.

The Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae), also known as True Laurel, Sweet Bay, Grecian Laurel, or just Laurel, is an evergreen tree or large shrub reaching 10-18 m tall, native to the Mediterranean region. The leaves are 6-12 cm long and 2-4 cm broad, with a characteristic serrated and wrinkled margin. The fruit is a small black berry about 1 cm long, containing a single seed.

Laurel wreath: a common motif in architecture, furniture, and textiles.

See also: Wreath

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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