Starting Bay Laurel From Seeds*


I read your article on starting bay laurel from seeds. The seeds on my tree are green. How do I know when and if they are ready to pick? Do I peel the skin off of them? Do I wait until they fall off of the tree or can I pick them? How do I know which type of bay tree it is? I had photos but just lost them in transit. Can provide later. I’m wanting to obviously start the bay laurel. Help!


First, you are right to make sure that your plant is actually the Laurus nobilis or bay laurel, which is edible, instead of similarly commonly named plants, which are not. The leaves should be growing alternately on the branches, and have a simple shape with smooth (not toothed) edges. And of course, when you rub or crush the leaf, you should smell the unique characteristics of the bay leaves used in cooking. For a good description and pictures of the Laurus nobilis, see here.

The best time to removed the seeds is when they are fully ripened, resembling black olives. Here is a picture.

I’m including a link below to our Toronto Master’s guide on growing bay. Note that all resources indicate that it is very challenging to get these seeds to germinate, which is why most propagation is done by cuttings.

How to Grow Bay