- Common Name(s):
- Carolina cherry laurel
- 'Bright 'N' Tight'
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
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 develop with age.
This plant is easy to transplant, can withstand heavy pruning and is moderately salt tolerant.
Regions: Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Blooms: Early spring Nut/Fruit/Seed: Fall
Wildlife Value: 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 and bees nectar from the spring flowers. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkey, quail, raccoons, foxes, and small mammals. White-tailed deer browse the foliage but it is considered highly resistant to damage.
Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: This plant's 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.
- 20-40 ft.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pyramidal in youth; dense; rounded crown with age
- Full sun, part shade
- Green fruits
- USA, NC
- Piedmont, Coastal Plain and cultivated
- Poison Part:
- Wilted leaves, twigs (stems), seeds
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure
- Toxic Principle:
- Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
- 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
- 15-20 ft.
- Growth Rate:
- The Carolina laurel cherry has 2-3 inch alternate, simple, glossy, lanceolate-oblong lustrous dark green leaves (to 2-4" long) with pointed tips.
NCCES plant id: 1135