Sunday, May 5, 2013

LUSH: Which bay leaf plant?

 On the cosmetics company LUSH's web page they list information about all their ingredients.  Here is their information for "Fresh Bay Leaf Infusion (Pimenta Acris)", which features a major botanical inaccuracy. 
Screenshot from LUSH webpage about bay leaf
© LUSH, fair use
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The bay leaf, laurel, bay laurel, or sweet bay commonly used in European cooking and herbal medicine is named Laurus nobilis.  In the text below the heading, this name is listed, with appropriate and correct information regarding this species' origin, history, and use. This is probably also the species in the photograph, but it is hard to tell. Laurus is in the laurel family, Lauraceae.

However, the name Pimenta acris refers to a totally different plant species, the West Indian Bay Tree, which has a multitude of common names and its origin is in the Caribbean.  It is also used for its essential oils in cooking, but high concentrations of the oil is toxic.  The current, updated scientific name is Pimenta racemosa, so Pimenta acris is a synonym, and this little tree belongs to the eucalyptus family, Myrtaceae. 

So, which plant did LUSH use in their products?  It is impossible to tell from their website, but lets hope they know...