The Bay tree is frequently mentioned in ancient Greek mythology. This handsome, evergreen tree which symbolises courage and strength was also treasured by the Roman gods, who wore sprigs of Bay as crowns to represent their high status and glory.
Ancient Greek myths also associated the Bay with their god Apollo, this tree is one of his most important symbols, and in turn, a wreath of Bay was given as the prize at the Pythian Games, to honour him.
This story begins with Apollo’s pursuit of the beautiful nymph Daphne. She did not love Apollo and so pleaded with her father, the rivergod, Peneus, to turn her into a tree. According to the myth, he turned her into a Bay tree. Apollo decided that since he could not have his beloved Daphne as his wife, he would instead decorate himself with Bay sprigs made from her branches.
The beautiful Bay tree has glossy, evergreen leaves, which have been treasured for centuries for their aromatic sweetness. These leaves can be made into a bouquet garni to add a delicious flavour to soups and stews. The Bay tree’s pale yellow flowers, which blossom in spring, are wonderful for wildlife and especially loved by our bees and butterflies.