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Otto Luyken's Laurel Prunus laurocerasus 'Otto Luyken'

Phonetic Spelling
PROO-nus lar-o-ser-A-sus ah-tow LOO-ken
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

'Otto Luyken' cherry laurel is a compact cultivar evergreen shrub that grows to 3 to 4 feet tall and spreads to 6 to 8 feet. Over time it can grow 6-10 feet tall. It has upright stems, dark green glossy leaves, and fragrant, small, creamy white, cup-shaped flowers that are arranged in 3 to 6-inch long racemes. Flowering occurs from April to May. The flowers give way to small purple to black drupes in the late summer and fall. The leaves pointed upwards from the stems, which is a distinctive feature of this cultivar. The fruits are inedible and poisonous; therefore, exercise caution with children and pets. This cultivar is a member of the Rosaceae or rose family.

The cultivar, 'Otto Luyken,'  was introduced in Germany in 1968 by Hesse Nurseries. 

The genus name, Prunus, is Latin for cherry or plum. The epithet, laurocerasus, means laurel cherry because of its laurel-like or evergreen leaves and cherry-like fruits.

This cultivar is best planted in full sun to partial shade, moist, well-drained, loamy soils. It tolerates shade and prefers it in hotter climates. The shrub is also tolerant of alkaline soils, dry and poor soils, pollution, and heavy pruning. It is moderately tolerant to salt but is intolerant of heavy fertilization. Free flowering can occur even in heavy shade.  If pruning is required, it is best to prune after flowering has completed and use hand pruners. Avoid shearing which will mutilate the leaves.

It is often confused with 'Zabeliana' in trade which has a more upright growth form, growing taller than wide ("refrigerator form") and spreading leaves. 'Otto Luyken' grows wider than tall ("freezer form") and bears strongly ascending leaves at 45-60 degree angle to the stem; both have entire leaves or occasionally one or two-minute teeth. Both are separated from 'Schipkaensis' which has toothed margins toward the apex. 

Consider this cultivar as a hedge, screen, foundation, specimen, or mass plantings in the home landscape, woodland, or shade garden.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring      Foliage: Year-round:       Fruit: Summer and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • compact, dense, spreading broadleaf evergreen shrub
  • leaves point upwards from the stems
  • glossy, dark green leaves, lanceolate to oblong with entire margins
  • creamy white small cupped-shaped flowers arranged in 3 to 6-inch long racemes
  • red to purplish-black small, round drupes

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This cultivar has better pest resistance than other species in this genus. It is however susceptible to shot-hole disease, powdery mildew, and root rot. To prevent shot-hole fungus, avoid overhead watering. Chlorosis can occur in poor chalky soils.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

More information on Prunus laurocerasus.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Water Koi Pond Paver Pathway
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#shade shrub#salt tolerant#shade garden#spring flowers#mass planting#hedges#food source wildlife#cpp#drupes#pollinator plant#black fruits#fantz#evergreen shrub#compact habit#bird friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#heavy shade tolerant#cultivar#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#shade shrub#salt tolerant#shade garden#spring flowers#mass planting#hedges#food source wildlife#cpp#drupes#pollinator plant#black fruits#fantz#evergreen shrub#compact habit#bird friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#heavy shade tolerant#cultivar#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Prunus
    Species:
    laurocerasus
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Wildlife Value:
    The fruits are relished by birds, and the flowers attract pollinator bees.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Better disease resistance than most other species in the genus Prunus. Moderately tolerant of salt.
    Edibility:
    The fruits, leaves, and stems are poisonous if ingested.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    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 Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are round, black, inconspicuous drupes that are less than a 1-inch in size. The fruits are initially red then turn a glossy purplish-black and are seen in the late summer to fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The inflorescence is a dense, cylindrical raceme from 3 to 6 inches long in the leaf axils. Flowers are fragrant, cup-shaped, creamy white, 7-petaled, and small with showy anthers. Blooms April to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are evergreen, lustrous, alternate, simple, lanceolate to oblong, and entire, with at least 2 conspicuous glands on the underside of the leaf blade near the midrib.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Twigs and buds are green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Heavy Shade
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Urban Conditions
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure Stems, leaves, seeds contain cyanide, particularly toxic in the process of wilting: brick red mucous membranes, panting, shock.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Stems