A familiar and flavorful plant has been chosen by the International Herb Association (IHA) as the 2009 Herb of the Year. Bay (Laurus nobilis) is a staple in most kitchens as a flavoring for soups, stews, stuffing and marinades, as well as a multitude of other culinary uses. Its glossy green leaves are aromatic when crushed.
In warm climates (Zone 8 and south), the bay tree is an attractive landscape plant that can grow to 60 feet. In colder zones, bay can be grown in a pot and moved indoors for winter. In a large pot, the plant can grow to 5 to 6 feet.
The IHA selects its Herb of the Year based on a plant’s outstanding qualities in at least two of three categories: medicinal, culinary or decorative. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of the selected herbs. Herbal organizations around the world then work together to educate the public about that year’s selection. Calendula, featured in the March issue of The Herb Companion, is the 2008 Herb of the Year.