I was so excited last fall to finally be able to purchase a bay laurel. So excited, in fact, that I didn’t examine the plant closely. I took a closer look when I got it home and realized that something wasn’t right. The label clearly said Laurus nobilis, but the leaves looked too round. Bay laurel leaves should be long and pointy, not round.
So I did a little research and discovered that there are several species of laurels, only one of which has rounded rather than lance shaped leaves: Laurus azorica. As the names implies, it is found on the Azores. A related species, Laurus novocanariensis, grows on the Canary Islands but that one has the characteristic lance-shaped leaves.
Laurus azorica is not only rare, it is considered endangered. I don’t know how it ended up at my local nursery but I will always treasure it.
This spring, I was finally able to buy a Laurus nobilis at the Rutgers Gardens Spring Flower Fair. I’m looking forward to using its leaves in my fall soups and stews.