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Prunus caroliniana

This plant has poison characteristics. See below.
Common Name(s):
Carolina cherry laurel
Cultivar(s):
Bright 'N' Tight
Categories:
Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Comment:

Prunus caroliniana, commonly called cherry laurel, is an evergreen tree or large shrub that is native to low woods, fields and thickets from southeastern North Carolina to Florida west to Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. It is most often seen growing 15-20' tall but may rise in tree form to as much as 40' tall.

The bark is smooth and gray to reddish brown with numerous lenticels.   Some splits and fissures develope with age.

This plant is easy to transplant and can withstand heavy pruning.

Regions:  Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:   Early spring           Nut/Fruit/Seed:   Fall

Wildlife Value:  This plant is highly resistant to damaage from deer.  It provides winter and extreme weather cover.  It is a host plant for the Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted purple, Spring/Summer Azures, and Viceroy butterflies.  Adult butterflies nectar from the spring flowers.  Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkey, quail, racoons, foxes, and small mammals.  White-tailed deer browse the foilage.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  This plants leaves contain high quantities of prussic acid (cyanide) and must never be eaten. Borers can be a problem particularly with trees under stress. Mites can also be a problem. 

Height:
20-40 ft.
Flower:
The Carolina laurel cherry has fragrant white flowers (each to 3/16" across) that bloom in dense racemes (2-3" long) in late winter to early spring (February to April). The flowers (each to 5/16" long) are followed by green fruits which initially turn reddish purple before ripening in fall to shiny black. The flower can be used to create arrangements.
Zones:
7-10
Habit:
Evergreen
Site:
The Carolina laurel cherry grows best in moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Established plants have good drought tolerance. It can be propagated by cuttings, root suckers or seed. It will self-seed in the landscape.
Texture:
Medium
Form:
Pyramidal in youth; dense; rounded crown with age
Exposure:
Full sun, part shade
Fruit:
Green fruits
Family:
Rosaceae
Origin:
USA, NC
Distribution:
Piedmont, Coastal Plain and cultivated
Poison Part:
Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds
Poison Delivery Mode:
Ingestion
Symptoms:
Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure
Toxic Principle:
Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
Severity:
HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!
Found in:
Maritime forest or natural area; weedy in disturbed areas on roadsides and along fencerows; landscape as broadleaf evergreen ornamental tree
Width:
15-20 ft.
Growth Rate:
Rapid
Leaf:
The Carolina laurel cherry has 2-3 inch alternate, simple, glossy, lanceolate-oblong lustrous dark green leaves (to 2-4" long) with pointed tips.
Tags:
flowering tree, naturalize, birds, hedge, fragrant, butterflies, showy, deer resistant, evergreen

NCCES plant id: 1135

Prunus caroliniana Prunus caroliniana
Prunus caroliniana Prunus caroliniana
Prunus caroliniana Prunus caroliniana
Prunus caroliniana Prunus caroliniana
Photo by Bri Weldon, CC BY - 2.0