Help identifying different cultivars(?) of Laurus nobilis?


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I ordered a number of 15g multi-trunk Laurus nobilis shrubs from a local nursery, and since I couldn't transport them all, just had them pick them out and deliver them. I didn't notice until the next day that there appears to be two different types. They're both labeled Laurus nobilis / Grecian Laurel / Sweet Bay, but the differences line up with different grower labels. I'm assuming one is a cultivar, but don't know which. Any insights are much appreciated. These were purchased in Sacramento, California, USA.

Number 1 (flower buds, thinner leaves, green branches):
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Number 2 (no buds, wider leaves, more upright growth, purple-ish branches):
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Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!!

Seth
 
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Hello and welcome to the forum @sethleonard.

There are a few different varieties of ''Laurel''
By looking at the two that you have there, I guess that the one with narrower leaves is more likely to be sweet bay, but I am NOT sure. Try crushing a leaf and see what aroma you get to ascertain whether it is or not. If it is it is much slower growing.
I believe the plants you have with larger leaves are Cherry Laurel ''Prunus laurocerasus'' aka common laurel or english laurel, often used for hedging. Be cautious with these plants if you have any grazing animals nearby as they are poisonous. Sweet laurel is the only one of the bunch that is edible as far as I know.
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Bay tree.


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Cherry laurel (prunus laurocerasus)

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Prunus Lusitanicus (portugese laurel)


I used to propagate all these at work, but always managed to get them mixed up.
 
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If you want to grow a fast evergreen hedge Griselinia is a better bet
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it is also much easier and softer to cut. :geek:
 
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Hello and welcome to the forum @sethleonard.

There are a few different varieties of ''Laurel''
By looking at the two that you have there, I guess that the one with narrower leaves is more likely to be sweet bay, but I am NOT sure. Try crushing a leaf and see what aroma you get to ascertain whether it is or not. If it is it is much slower growing.
I believe the plants you have with larger leaves are Cherry Laurel ''Prunus laurocerasus'' aka common laurel or english laurel, often used for hedging. Be cautious with these plants if you have any grazing animals nearby as they are poisonous. Sweet laurel is the only one of the bunch that is edible as far as I know.

I used to propagate all these at work, but always managed to get them mixed up.
Thanks, @Tetters!

I actually don't think the wider leaf ones are Cherry/English or Portuguese Laurel. They don't have the slight perforations on the edge of the leaves that both of those seem to have. This nursery does have the English Laurel as well and they were not next to this patch.

I ripped both leaves and they both smell like sweet bay leaves.

Based on that, and the fact that it would be a pretty big mistake by the nursery to completely mislabel a large group of plants, I feel like they are in fact Laurus nobilis. I'm guessing they're a different cultivar, or perhaps grown a completely different way (seed vs. cutting)? But I'm no expert so I really don't know.
 
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Just for interest I have been looking at this Umbellularia californica in Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbellularia.

I thought a link might be of interest. I had never heard of this before - it is a good way to learn. Thanks for asking the question in the first place :happy:
 
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Thanks @Mike Allen and @Tetters . I am aware of the California Bay. I don't think that's it, but I could be wrong. We're going to talk to the nursery buyer tomorrow and see if we can figure out what the difference is. I'll report back if I learn anything.
 
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I `ll be very interested to know what they say (y)
 
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Oddly enough, this morning a neighbor had a tree delivered from another local nursery that we've ordered from a lot. They were kind enough to take a look and give me their thoughts.

Her theory is that the darker branches (#2) are actually younger plants, and that color is common for younger Laurus nobilis. The older, greener branches are from older plants that were pruned in order for them to fill out more. This seems consistent with the shapes of the plants, as well as cuts that I'm now seeing on #1.

It may also explain the lack of buds on #2 if younger plants don't bud, but I'm definitely speculating here.

Laurus nobilis and Umbellularia californica both have similar buds/flowers, so that probably won't help.

I'm going to proceed with the idea that they are the same plant and will eventually all look the same. But I guess we'll know for sure this summer if one of them starts fruiting, which only the Umbellularia californica does.
 
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Further confirmation from two different people at the nursery:

"The photos show they are all Grecian Laurel. Growers have different methods of pruning and fertilizer so that is why there is some differences when the plants are in the nursery. Eventually the plants should become similar when the plants get acclimated to their growing environment and have the same growing conditions."

"My buyer took a look at the pictures and said it most likely due to the fact that the two trees were grown in different areas of California, which can lead to different coloring. I would recommend waiting so they can acclimate to our weather, but in short -- yes, they are the same tree."
 
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I personally find it interesting, that you are persuing this matter. Well done.

It is a well known fact, that all living things have the ability to, 'adapt' and to undergo some changes, variations to growth, colour etc. At the end of the day, probably the only positive result would come from a DNA test. I wish you all the best in your searches.
 

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