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Prunus caroliniana

Phonetic Spelling
PROO-nus kair-oh-lin-ee-AY-nah
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Carolina Laurel Cherry is a small evergreen shrub to small tree that may easily grow to 35 feet tall. The fresh leaves of this plant have a maraschino cherry fragrance when crushed and glands on the lower surface of the leaves. This species is native to the southern United States. Full sun is preferred but it is tolerant of shade as long as the soil is moist and well-drained.   

This plant is easy to transplant, can withstand heavy pruning, and is moderately salt tolerant.   Established plants have good drought tolerance.  Use as a hedge, as a foundation plant, and in small groups or mass planting. It can become weedy in disturbed areas on roadsides and along fencerows and will also put out root suckers and self-seed in the landscape.

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Borers can be a problem particularly with trees under stress. Mites and scale can also be a problem. Fungal and viral issues are occasional problems.  Its rapid growth rate which causes it to have weedy tendencies.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Evergreen lustrous leaves reticulate below
  • Leaves with 2 glands on lower blade base & near margin
  • Inflorescences short, axillary racemes & white flowered
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bright 'N' Tight'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#small tree#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#toxic#salt tolerant#cover plant#flowering tree#coastal#hedges#food source#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#deer resistant#naturalizes#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#cover#food source fall#fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#small groups#problem for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bright 'N' Tight'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#small tree#wildlife plant#showy#native tree#toxic#salt tolerant#cover plant#flowering tree#coastal#hedges#food source#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#deer resistant#naturalizes#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#cover#food source fall#fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#small groups#problem for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Prunus
    Species:
    caroliniana
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northern America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides winter and extreme weather cover . Host plant for Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Spring/Summer Azures, and Viceroy butterflies. Adult butterflies nectar from the spring flowers. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, raccoons, foxes, and small mammals. White-tailed deer browse foliage.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Green drupes that mature lustrous, dark black, ovoid subglobose, and are less than an inch in diameter. They mature with a large pith (stone).
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The Carolina Laurel Cherry has fragrant, small white flowers (each to 5/16" across) that bloom in dense, short, axillary racemes (1" long) in late winter to early spring (February to April) and are somewhat inconspicuous amongst the leaves.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are 2-3" long, alternate, simple, glossy, oblong to oblong-elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, acute, cuneate to broad cuneate, entire as adult, spinose-serrate as seedlings, and are lustrous dark green at maturity. Leaves have pointed tips. The lower surface bears a pare of small glands near the base of the blade near the margins, and are reticulate below.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Patchy
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is smooth and gray to reddish-brown with numerous lenticels. Develops gray patches and splits with age.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds
    Stems