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Laurus. Laurus nobilis. Sweet Bay.

Botanical name:

Laurus. Laurus nobilis L. Sweet Bay. Laurier commun, Fr. Lorbeer, G.—The sweet bay is an evergreen tree of the Fam. Lauraceae, inhabiting the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. The leaves are alternate, on short petioles, oval-lanceolate or oblong, entire, pellucid-punctate, of a firm texture, smooth, shining, deep green upon their upper surface, paler beneath. They have a fragrant odor, especially when bruised, and a bitter, aromatic, somewhat astringent taste. They yield by distillation a greenish-yellow volatile oil. The volatile oil, of which the fruit yields 0.23 per cent., has a sp. gr. 0.88, and is solid at 0° 0. (32° F.). It is largely composed of oxygenated compounds. The constituents thus far recognized are myrcene, phellandrene, methyl-chavicol, citral, methyl-eugenol, chavicol, and eugenol. (Schim, Rep., April, 1897.) Water distilled from the leaves has their peculiar odor. The berries when dried are black and wrinkled, and contain two oval fatty seeds within a thin, friable envelope; or they may be considered as drupes, with a kernel divisible into two lobes. They have the same aromatic odor and taste as the leaves, but are more pungent. Besides an essential oil, they contain a fixed oil, which, as obtained by expression from the fresh fruit, is of a greenish color, and aromatic odor from retained volatile oil. One of its chief constituents is the ether of lauric acid, the so-called laurostearine, C3H5(H12H23O2)3, which fuses at 45° C. (113° F.). The free acid may be obtained from this by saponification. It cannot be distilled without decomposition. Another constituent of the crude fat is laurin, C22H30O3, which can be extracted by alcohol. It forms neutral, easily fusible prisms without odor or taste. Lard, impregnated with the odorous principle of the berries, and colored green by chlorophyll or sometimes by indigo and turmeric, is said to be often substituted for the genuine expressed oil. This may be detected by boiling alcohol, which dissolves the true oil. The leaves, berries, and oil are excitant and narcotic, but are rarely used internally as medicines, and in this country are scarcely employed in any manner. E. M. Holmes, however, states that the berries have been use in. Europe to promote miscarriages. (P. J., 1910, 52.) Their chief use is to communicate a pleasant odor to external remedies. The leaves are also used for culinary purposes in communicating their aromatic flavor to soups, stews, etc. They come into commerce frequently as the packing around stick licorice extract from Mediterranean countries.


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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