Laurel Tree Symbolism and Meanings

 7 min read

With many names such as bay, laurel, and bay laurel, this sun-loving, the aromatic tree (Laurus nobilis) symbolises fame, victory, and success.

In ancient Greece and Rome, winners wore laurel crowns–a tradition that Italian high school graduates still do today.

Also, the word “laureate” (mastery and recognition) comes from laurel, as well as the expression, “resting on one’s laurels”.

Laurel tree symbolism has a lot of meanings. For instance, the leaves and other parts of this tree were used in ancient Greek and Roman ceremonies. Laurel was also considered sacred to Gaia, Daphne, and Apollo. In addition, this symbolism has been associated with victory, fame, healing, and divination. Laurel trees have been mentioned in various literary works throughout history. Laurel trees have also been featured in paintings by artists such as Botticelli and Caravaggio.

In this article, we will explore the laurel tree symbolism and its meaning. If you want to learn more, keep reading!

Symbolism:Earth’s calling, victory, fame, success and divination
Divine Associations:Gaia, Apollo, Daphne (all Greek)
Astrological Association:Neptune
Historical Spotlight:In 393 CE, when Greece was a Roman province, the Christian emperor Theodosius destroyed the pagan Oracle of Delphi and its sacred laurels. He also abolished the Olympic Games.

About Laurel Trees

laurel tree
Laurel Tree

Laurus is a genus of aromatic evergreens that contains two species. The true laurel mentioned in antiquity is the Laurel or (sweet) bay, L. nobilis, which originates from the Mediterranean region.

It can grow up to 40ft tall in rich peaty soil with moist conditions; however, its stature can be variable based on these conditions.

Suckers are often produced by this plant at its base too. Its dark and glossy green leaves grow alternately and are shaped lanceolate to elliptic with lengths of 4in maximum.

Small yellowish flowers open during April for both sexes although male flowers usually have 12+ fertile stamens. These produce black or dark purple berries as fruit.

Practical Uses

The Greek writer Hesiod (seventh century BCE) describes farm tools made from oak, elm and laurel wood. The laurel has been cultivated since ancient times for its aromatic leaves, which flavour soup, stews and other dishes.

Laurel leaves, also known as bay leaves, are some of the most versatile in cookery and an ingredient in French herb mixture bouquet garni.

Natural Healing

Chewing bay leaves or mixing them into your food can help with stomach digestion and tension. Moreover, applying the leaves to insect bites will ease the pain and swelling.

The essential oil from bay leaves can serve as a warming agent for arthritis and muscle tension; however, use this remedy cautiously and in low dilution. Bay oil is also a time-honoured treatment for sprains, bruises, and earaches.

Lastly, adding bay oil to inhalants lessens coughs and colds.


Culture, Myth and Symbol of the Laurel Tree

old laurel tree
Old Laurel Tree

Greek mythology tells the story of Daphne, a nymph who was pursued by Apollo. To protect her, Gaia – the Earth goddess – transformed her into a laurel tree. In memory of Daphne, Apollo wore a crown of laurel leaves.

This story led to the Greek and Roman tradition of crowning master poets and victorious athletes and warriors with laurel wreaths.

The ceremonial and ritualistic use of laurel leaves stretches back to antiquity. When the Dorians invaded Greece in 1100 BCE, they found that the indigenous population was already using laurel leaves as part of their religious ceremonies at a site on Mount Parnassos.

There, a laurel tree and a spring had appeared close to a deep fissure in the Earth.

According to legend, after Apollo arrived at Delphi, he established his oracle there. The Oracle of Delphi became famous and well-consulted among the Greeks.

The high priestess who interpreted the Earth oracle was called Pythia, named after a female dragon guardian of the area called Python.

Those who consulted the Oracle believed that laurel could induce prophetic trance states because Pythia chewed on leaves and inhaled fumes from burning laurel offerings.


Laurel Tree Symbolism and Meanings

The laurel tree has historically been a symbol of victory and success, as seen in its use as a crown for champions in ancient Greek culture. In Roman mythology, it was also associated with power, being dedicated to the god Apollo.

More recently, the laurel has come to represent peace and harmony, with countries like Colombia dubbing it the “tree of reconciliation.” Its versatility in symbolism certainly adds to its appeal as a decorative plant in gardens around the world.

But just watch out for its notoriously poisonous berries – physical victory may not be worth risking your life over.

Overall, one thing is clear – if you have a laurel tree in your yard, you better be prepared to impress your guests with all of its cultural significance.

Fame

When we think of bay laurel, fame is often one of the first things that come to mind. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be known and respected for our talents, it’s important to ask ourselves how we want to be seen by the world. What do we want to be known for?

Masculinity

A lot of men’s products are scented with bay rum, and for good reason. Bay smells amazing on a man, and it also has some great benefits aroma therapeutically.

It can help instil confidence and align someone with their highest potential. While the bay is traditionally seen as a very masculine tree, with its potent solar energy, we all have both masculine and feminine aspects to us.

So this scent can be helpful for anyone who wants to enhance their masculine qualities of directionality, action, and focus.

Prosperity

The expansive and bright vibration of bay leaves creates an environment that attracts wealth. It’s associated with Jupiter, the planet of abundance, so this is a great herb to have around if you’re looking to improve your finances.

Protection Against Harassment and Unwanted Advances

According to Greek mythology, the nymph Daphne- despite her father’s (the god Eros) best attempts – preferred to stay single and concentrate on her love for nature.

However, when the god Apollo fell crazily in love with her and pursued them relentlessly, she transformed into a laurel tree to avoid him. She has since become sort of like a patron saint representing those who face unwanted sexual advances.

Success

Laurels have been associated with victory and success in the Bible, as well as in ancient and modern times. Adding one or more bay leaves to any magical work is said to help you achieve success.


How Has the Laurel Tree been Used in History?

laurel leaves
Laurel Leaves

The laurel tree, also known as the bay tree, has been used throughout history in a variety of ways. In ancient Greece and Rome, its branches were woven into crowns to adorn victorious athletes and leaders.

The word “baccalaureate,” which refers to an academic degree, is derived from the name of the tree. And in traditional herbal medicine, the leaves have been used for soothing muscle pain and promoting digestion.

More recently, its aromatic leaves have also been used in cooking to flavor meats and soups.

So next time you catch a whiff of that recognizable scent wafting from your kitchen or see it adorning someone’s head at a graduation ceremony, remember the long and storied history of the humble laurel tree.


Why is the Laurel Tree Considered a Symbol of Victory?

Why do we give gold medals to winners? Why do we say someone is “crowned” a champion? It all dates back to ancient Greece, where victors in sporting events were crowned with wreaths made of laurel tree leaves.

This tradition was said to have started with the god Apollo, who bestowed a laurel wreath upon the great musician and poet, Homer. The laurel tree was also closely associated with the god of war, Ares, making it a fitting symbol for victories gained in battle.

Throughout history, the image of laurel wreaths has been used as a symbol of victory in art and literature, from Renaissance paintings to Shakespeare’s plays.

So next time you see a laurel leaf on a medal or trophy, remember its history as a symbol of triumph and achievement.

Conclusion

The Laurel tree is a beautiful and unique plant that has many different meanings. Whether you are looking for a symbol of strength or something to represent success, the Laurel tree is a great option.

Do some research to find out which meaning is most appropriate for you and then enjoy having this stunning plant in your life.