Bay leaves grow on the sweet bay leaf tree. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, sweet bay leaf trees grow to a height between 40 and 50 feet, but it thrives in a container as a house plant or outside in temperate climates.
Known as "Laurus nobilis," the bay leaf tree is one of the world's oldest cultivated species. Throughout history, the bay leaf or laurel represented victory. The leaves are thick, glossy, dark-green and contain an oil used to enhance soups, stews and sauces. In ancient Greece, the winners of games received a laurel crown, and the symbol remains as part of the national emblem of Greece. Other members of the "lauracaea" plant family include cinnamon, sassafras and avocado.