Laurel (US cities)
laurel (in botany)
laurel, common name for the Lauraceae, a family of forest trees and shrubs found mainly in tropical SE Asia but also abundant in tropical America. Most have aromatic bark and foliage and are evergreen; deciduous species are usually those that extend into temperate zones. The plants are important for aromatic oils and spices, edible fruits, and timber (e.g., from species of the largest genus, Ocotea). The true laurel—that of history and classical literature—is Laurus nobilis, called also bay and sweet bay. It is native to the Mediterranean, where to the ancients it symbolized victory and merit and was sacred to Apollo. The fragrant leaves are sold commercially as bay leaf, a seasoning. Many plants of the unrelated heath family are also called laurels in the United States because of their similarly dark and glossy but poisonous leaves; the cherry laurel is a species of the rose family. A native American laurel is the evergreen California laurel (Umbellularia californica), also called pepperwood, bay-tree, and Oregon myrtle. It grows in California and Oregon and provides wood, medicinal leaves, and fruits that were eaten by Native Americans. Lindera benzoin, commonly called spicebush, benzoin, or wild allspice, is another fragrant species found in America; its powdered berries have been used as a substitute for allspice. All other Lindera species are Asian. The red bay (Persea borbonia) of the southeast coastal plains has very strong, bright reddish-brown heartwood used in cabinetmaking and interior finishing. P. americana, the alligator pear, or avocado (from Sp. aguacate), has been cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala for millennia; it is now grown extensively in Florida and California and many parts of the moister tropics and subtropics for its nutritious oil-rich fruit and is used chiefly in salads. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), a tree or shrub, was one of the first American plants to command the attention of European settlers, who exported it to the Old World as a high-priced panacea. Its aromatic bark is still occasionally used for medicinal tea, and its pulverized leaves for soup and condiments. Safrole, used in flavorings and medicinals, is obtained from oil of sassafras as well as from the camphor tree. The camphor tree, the cassia-bark tree, and the cinnamon tree all belong to the Asian genus Cinnamomum and are extensively cultivated for their aromatic bark (see cinnamon and camphor). Many of the evergreen laurels are grown as hedges and, because of their handsome foliage, are used by florists. The laurel family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Laurales.
lau·rel / ˈlôrəl;ˈlär-/ • n. 1. any of a number of shrubs and other plants with dark green glossy leaves, in particular: • short for mountain laurel.short for cherry laurel. the bay tree. See bay2 . 2. an aromatic evergreen shrub related to the bay tree, several kinds of which form forests in tropical and warm countries. • Family Lauraceae: many genera and species. 3. (usu. laurels) the foliage of the bay tree woven into a wreath or crown and worn on the head as an emblem of victory or mark of honor in classical times. ∎ fig. honor: she has rightly won laurels for this brilliantly perceptive first novel. • v. (-reled , -rel·ing; Brit. -relled, -rel·ling) [tr.] adorn with or as if with a laurel: they banish our anger forever when they laurel the graves of our dead. PHRASES: look to one's laurels be careful not to lose one's superior position to a rival. rest on one's laurels be so satisfied with what one has already achieved that one makes no further effort.
mountain laurel, evergreen shrub (Kalmia latifolia) of the family Ericaceae (heath family), closely related to the rhododendron and native to E North America. The state flower of Connecticut and Pennsylvania, it has leathery leaves and large clusters of spring-blooming pink or white flowers borne at the ends of the branches. The flowers are unusual in having the anthers of the stamens held in little pockets of the corolla and released like springs when touched by an insect. Mountain laurel, called also calico bush and spoonwood, is poisonous to livestock but seldom palatable; formerly its leaves were used as a remedy for skin diseases, and spoons were made from the hard wood. Like other species of Kalmia (named for Peter Kalm) that share its poisonous quality and elastic stamens, it is an acid-soil plant. The sheep laurel or lambkill (K. angustifolia) has smaller, deeper pink flowers not borne at the branch tips. The true laurel belongs to a separate family. Although the leaves of Kalmia somewhat resemble in shape those of the true laurel, only the latter (sold as bayleaf) is suitable for seasoning. Mountain laurel is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales, family Ericaceae.
Laurel (cities, United States)
Laurel:1 Town (1990 pop. 19,438), Prince Georges co., central Md., about halfway between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore; patented in the late 1600s, inc. 1870. Primarily residential, Laurel has light manufacturing. The Washington, D.C., Children's Center and Laurel Race Course (opened 1911) are there. In the area are the Patuxent Research Refuge, a large Fish and Wildlife Service research installation; Fort George G. Meade (est. 1917), with the National Security Agency; and the National Cryptologic Museum.
2 City (1990 pop. 18,827), seat of Jones co., SE Miss., on Tallahala Creek; inc. 1892. Industries center around petroleum and lumber production and meat and poultry processing. Cotton and corn are raised and there is dairying. Manufactures include automotive parts, wood products, apparel, chemicals, furniture, machinery, and electrical equipment. The city was founded as the site of a sawmill in 1882. Oil was discovered in the vicinity in 1944. Southeastern Baptist College is in Laurel.
A tree that Lucius Apuleius (ca. 126-173 B.C.E.) classed as among the plants which preserve men from the influence of evil spirits. It was also believed to give protection from lightning. The laurel was regarded as sacred to Apollo, and it was associated with purifying, since Apollo was the great purifier. An evergreen, it was a symbol of immortality; its intoxicating properties associated it with prophetic and poetic inspiration. The Pythian priestess at Delphi in Greece used to chew laurel leaves to enhance oracular powers. The laurel also symbolized victory and peace. The victors in the Pythian games were crowned with laurel. Roman generals sent news of their victories in messages wrapped in laurel leaves, delivered to the Senate.
In classical times (as recorded by Pliny), laurel was believed to avert lightning.
Laurel may also be used in numismatics to designate an English gold coin, first coined in 1619, on which the sovereign's head was shown with a wreath of laurel.