"Laurel Leaf" from Stella Rubin's shop
Green leaves with the top three red.
A few weeks ago I did a post about the Laurel Leaf applique block (#5.55 in my Encyclopedia of Applique.) I had not noticed the consistent shading in the 19th-century examples.
Lady and Laurel Plant by Wencelas Hollar
Virginia Vis pointed out that Laurel plants
do not have red leaves or red flowers.
From a Baltimore Album Quilt dated 1848
Whereas the quilt block universally called Laurel Leaf
almost universally has green leaves and triple red flowers.
Blocks on point
From the Delaware Quilt ProjectVirginia, who has done extensive work in identifying the patterns in Baltimore Album Quilts, sent me her " two cents worth:"
"I don't think the red are intended to be flowers. It's a plant that where new/immature leaves are red and then turn green."
Detail of a quilt found in the New Jersey project.
From the Quilt Index
So, Virginia, what is it if not a Bay Laurel?
"My best candidate is the Photinia. Its a southern bush used for hedges. I think its inclusion in the BAQs is another example of regionalism, like including the local monuments."
I don't think Virginia is going to get everyone to start calling the block Photinia. It doesn't have a catchy common name either. "Red tip" probably won't work its way into our quilt block vocabulary.
The common name is Red Tip Photinia
or Chinese Photinia.
"It's a plant where new/immature leaves are red and then turn green."
Leaves are alternate in both laurels and Photinias.
They aren't paired or opposite as in the quilt block.
But that seems a quibble.
You may have some Photinia in your yard. It's a very showy spring bush. As best I can figure out Photinia is a native of China and Japan and was imported to Europe and America in the early 19th century, where it probably graced the gardens of many an amateur botanist.
Quilt signed Margaret Boone
in the collection of the New England Quilt Mueum