Plant DetailShow Menu

Prunus laurocerasus

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
PROO-nus law-roh-ser-AY-sus
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Cherry Laurel is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows up to 20' tall and is dense and wide-spreading. This plant blooms in the spring. It has a dense habit, spreading twice as high as it is high. It is sickeningly fragrant and free-flowering, even in heavy shade. It is generally a larger plant with larger, broader leaves than dwarf cultivars 'Otto Luyken' or 'Schipkaensis'. It is often confused with Ilex latifolia as both have similar looking foliage, growth form, and screening abilities. Glands on the lower leaf blade distinguish the cherry laurels, and glands next to the midrib separates this species from P. carolinana. This plant is tolerant of alkaline soils, dry and poor soils, pollution and heavy pruning. It is moderately tolerant to salt but is intolerant of heavy fertilization. It has a rapid growth rate with competitive roots. This plant has viral and fungal disease problems, as well as pest problems. This plant makes good screen for shaded areas. Avoid excessive fertilizer. This plant can be severely pruned. This plant also works well as a tall hedge or screen, or planted in mass in a woodland or shade garden, or even as a specimen plant. This plant has escaped cultivation on the Pacific coast west of the Cascades and is classified there as a weed of concern. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Better resistance than most other species in the genus Prunus. Susceptible to shot-hole disease, powdery mildew, and root rot.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Semi-circular stipular scar; leaves have cherry odor when bruised
  • Leaf is evergreen, coriaceous, broad elliptic-oblong
  • 2-8 glands on underside of leaf blade base near midrib
  • Inflorescences axillary racemes
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Magnoliifolia', 'Majestic Jade', 'Marbled Dragon', 'Otto Luyken', 'Schipkaensis', 'West Coast Schipkaensis', 'Zabeliana'
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#small tree#fragrant flowers#heavy shade#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#weedy#salt tolerant#flowering tree#drupe#cpp#glossy leaves#fantz#larval host plant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#pollinator garden#problem for dogs#problem for horses#eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Magnoliifolia', 'Majestic Jade', 'Marbled Dragon', 'Otto Luyken', 'Schipkaensis', 'West Coast Schipkaensis', 'Zabeliana'
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#small tree#fragrant flowers#heavy shade#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#weedy#salt tolerant#flowering tree#drupe#cpp#glossy leaves#fantz#larval host plant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#pollinator garden#problem for dogs#problem for horses#eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Prunus
    Species:
    laurocerasus
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe
    Distribution:
    CA, OR, WA, British Columbia
    Wildlife Value:
    This is a larval host plant to Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). You may see three flights from February-November in the deep south and two flights from May-September in the north. Fruits are relished by birds.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 11 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Oval
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    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:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are globose-ovoid berry-like drupes that are purple-black in color and less than an inch in size.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are white, fragrant, less than an inch in size, and have 20 stamens. Inflorescence is an axillary, dense, cylindrical raceme that grows up to 4" long.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, simple, coriaceous, oblong to elliptic, acuminate, cuneate to rounded, serrate to nearly entire, lustrous medium to dark green above, and 10" long and 5" wide. Leaves have 2-8 conspicuous glands on blade underside and near base and next to the midrib.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Twigs are green and have a cherry odor when bruised. Pith is pale of brown and continuous. They have semi-circular stipular scars.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Heavy Shade
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    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:
    Leaves
    Seeds
    Stems