Sometimes we go for a walk at Villa Ada. I took a clipping from one of the laurel shrubs and stuck it in a pot on our balcony. Now it’s growing and aims for the sky. Laurel, aka bay leaf, is used in cooking. But it has more than just flavour. Bay leaf helps treat digestive problems, lowers blood sugar, eliminates bad cholesterol, and helps fight insomnia. And, in you boil the leaves and inhale the steam, you can get rid of phlegm and reduce a cough.
In Greek myth, Daphne was a naiad, that is, a water nymph. She was quite lovely so the naughty Cupid put a curse on Apollo causing him to fall madly in love with her. But Daphne was not interested. She tried running away from the arrogant god but he chased her and demanded a kiss. Desperate, Daphne cried out to her father, the river god Peneus, for help. To save her from Apollo’s lust, Peneus transformed his daughter into a laurel tree.
In Greek, the name Daphne (Δάφνη) means “laurel”.
Bernini’s statue of “Apollo and Daphne” at Villa Borghese depicts the beginning of Daphne’s transformation into a tree. Her fingers have turned into branches and her toes are now roots that keep her well anchored to the ground.
So for all you tree huggers, don’t squeeze the laurel.
Related: The Metamorphoses of Ovid…read on archive.org HERE.