The European Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis Lauraceae) is a locally found tree that grows up to 40' tall (easily kept much lower by pruning) and has aromatic bay leaves that are used in cooking. Native to the Mediterranean region, it has small flowers that are light yellow-green and small black fruits. There is a staminate cultivar called 'Saratoga' that produces no fruit.

European bay leaves are also the leaves that were twisted into a "U" shape and placed as a crown atop the head of winners in ancient Greece (i.e., "Laurels"). People going for the collegian toga look could possibly use them today for a spicy smelling accessory. Alternatively, people who succeeded in the past and are now just relaxing could make a bed from them and rest on their laurels. A pair of green laurels over a yellow shield is the emblem of the Society for Creative Anachronism, as appears on bumperstickers around town.

There is a related native species, the California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica), which is found primarily in the Northern Coast Range but is also native to Davis. Leaves of the California bay laurel can be used similarly to European bay leaves in cooking, but California bay leaves have a stronger flavor.

Bay leaves of both species have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anticonvulsant properties.