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September 2012
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California bay leaves have a very strong, eucalyptus-like flavor

Images of California Bay at

California bay leaves have a very strong, eucalyptus-like flavor.
• The pungent herbal flavor of California bay is sometimes preferred for fruity dishes.
• Their beautiful, long, dark-green leaves make them ideal for craft work such as herbal floral wreaths.
• They weigh very little and 1/2 ounce equals 1/2 cup or more by volume.
• Umbellularia californica is a large tree native to coastal forests of California and slightly extended into Oregon.
• It has also been called pepperwood, spicebush, cinnamon bush, peppernut tree and headache tree, mountain laurel, and Balm of Heaven.
• It is an evergreen tree growing to 30 m tall (exceptionally 45 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm thick.
• The fragrant leaves are smooth-edged and lens shaped, 3–10 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad.
• Flowers open in late winter and early spring.
• The flowers are small, yellow or yellowish-green.
• The fruit, also known as “California Bay nut”, is a round and green berry 2–2.5 cm long and 2 cm broad.
• It is lightly spotted with yellow, maturing purple.
• The leaf has been used as a cure for headache, toothache, and earache.
• The volatile oils in the leaves may also cause headaches.
• Poultices of Umbellularia leaves were used to treat rheumatism and neuralgias.
• A tea was made from the leaves to treat stomach aches, colds, sore throats, and to clear up mucus in the lungs.
• The chemical responsible for the headache-inducing effects of Umbellularia is known as Umbellulone.

Growing/Caring conditions for California Bay Leaf

• Purchase a small bay laurel tree.
• Growing bay leaf from a seed is difficult; it can take up to six months.
• Growing from a cutting is also very challenging.
• Plant your bay leaf tree outside if you live in zones 8 to 11.
• Keep your tree protected from strong winds.
• Offer it partial shade, if the weather is too hot.
• Bay leaf loves full sunlight.
• Offer outdoor plants extra protection from frost in the winter by wrapping the plant to protect it.
• Putting hay on the ground by the roots will also provide warmth.
• If your bay leaf is exposed to frost, chances are the leaves will turn brown.
• Trim the plant to six inches above the soil.
• It will sprout come spring.
• Keep the soil well drained.
• Fertilize your bay leaf about twice a year.
• Give it lots of good composted soil.
• Let the tree dry out between watering.
• Over watering will damage the plant.
• Prune your tree in spring to keep it under control.
• Bay trees are not picky about soil as long as it’s well-drained.
• It will tolerate a range of pH levels from 4.5 to 8.3.
• It prefers its soil on the sandy side.
• When transplanting a bay sapling, mix three parts of soil-based compost with one part sand.
• Do not allow the roots to stay wet for long periods or root rot may set in.
• Bay is somewhat drought tolerant.
• In early to mid spring, prune the tree back.

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