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Bay leaves you use in cooking likely come from California and are not True Bay leaves. Turkey is the #1 producer if you buy "the real thing"
However, Florida has its own bay tree and the leaves are very fine for flavoring broths and sauces; we think better than the California imitation. Fresh off the tree, the flavor is unique and fun to use. If you have a Florida Sweet Bay, your cooking will have flavors folks outside Florida can never hope to duplicate
Florida Bay Laurel likes moist, acid soils. Sweet Bay can be found in the wild in Florida bay heads, swamps and stream banks. If you use Bay Laurel in your landscape, be sure plenty of water is available. If you have a moist spot on your land, plant this tree. Availability from local nurseries is very poor so you likely need to go the a Native Plant Society for young plants or plant shows featuring Florida native plants
You will also be rewarded by the attractive white flowers shaped like magnolia flowers you have seen
No bugs or other pests. Fertilize once or twice a year with an acid fertilizer