Laurel or Laurus (Laurus nobilis), is an evergreen shrub with oval, glossy and dark green leaves, with a very intense flavour. Its fruits, black berries, are harvested ripe from October to November. Laurel is a dioecious plant that is there are male and female specimens.
Laurel in history
Uses, beliefs and natural remedies with laurel in classical cultures.
The Greeks thought that Laurel leaves had the power to transmit the gift of divination, to ward off bad luck and contagious diseases. In Delphi, the seat of Apollo's oracle, the god’s priests chewed and burned laurel leaves to establish communication with the Gods and slept on "mattresses" made of layers of its twigs, to encourage premonitory dreams.
In the myth narrated by Ovid, the nymph Daphne, whose name means "Lauro" (Laurel), was the first love of the god Apollo. The young woman, to escape the courtship of the god, has been transformed by her mother Gea into a laurel plant. The god, now powerless, decided to honor this plant by making it evergreen and to make it sacred to him. From that moment on, men would have used it as a symbol of glory, to be placed on the heads of the best heroes, geniuses and sages, capable of ennobling enterprise.
Even in Rome, the Laurel was considered the sign of triumph; it is said, in fact, that it was Jupiter himself who gave it to Caesar to celebrate the victories of the emperor. For a long time, Laurel was used as a remedy against the plague, while, in the Middle Ages, Laurel leaves were considered a natural remedy suitable for regularizing the menstrual cycle.
A soap made of oleolites of Laurel
Syrian Aleppo soap is prepared with Laurel oleolites, particularly suitable for delicate skin and for those suffering from allergies and intolerances to perfumes and other additives, commonly found in soaps distributed by large retailers.
Laurel as an honor
It is interesting to note that the Laurel wreath, meant as an important honor that a person receives for achievements in the military, literary field, etc. still finds its use today to celebrate recent graduates. It is no coincidence that the word degree derives from the Latin "laurus".