Mythological Trees

The laurel tree is a kind of tree that is seen in the Eastern Mediterranean. The aromatic scent of the leaf allows the laurel to be easily separated from similar trees. The oil obtained from dark fruits is called as tain or teynel oil among the people and is used in healing; leaves are also added to many dishes to add aromatic flavors. The world’s largest producer of laurel leaves is Turkey.

The Crown of Apollo
Laurel oil has been the subject of many beliefs and legends throughout history due to its smell and aroma. The most well-known of these is a platonic love story between Apollo and Daphne, the sun god in Greek mythology. When Greek mythology says love, Eros comes to mind first. But Eros has a different role in this story. The story begins with Eros; archery is one of his most important skill of Eros. Apollo is also very good at archery. One day, he watches and mocks Eros as he performs archery. Eros is very angry. He shoots one of his arrows at Apollo, pointing at one of his arrows at his heart, leaving a poison of impossible love. Apollo, the sun god, falls in love with the beautiful forest fairy Daphne. Daphne doesn’t respond to Apollo’s love. He tries to escape from it and hide in the depths of the forest. As a result, Apollo is a god and finds Daphne’s footsteps. As a last resort, Daphne pleads with her father Peneios, the river god, for help. His father says that he can save Daphne by converting her into a tree. Daphne agrees. As soon as Apollo embraces Daphne, Daphne becomes a laurel tree. Apollo finds only one tree between his arms. Apollo is very upset about this situation after that day begins to wander with a crown of laurel leaves.

That is why today there is always a crown of laurel leaves at the head of Apollo statues. A Roman mosaic depicting this impossible love is on display today at the Antakya Mosaic Museum. The current name of the Defne district of Hatay comes from Daphne. It is possible that the laurel tree is associated with the sun god Apollo because of its sunny location. Today, it is possible to see laurel trees at many ancient sanctuaries, especially the temples of Apollo.

You can see the laurel tree in the coastal areas of Antalya in unspoiled natural maquis areas, in the gardens of the houses and in countless ruins of ancient cities.