Marcus, Joseph A.
Prunus caroliniana (P. Mill.) Ait.
Cherry laurel, Carolina cherry laurel, Laurel cherry, Carolina laurel cherry
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
With a natural range extending from southern North Carolina west to east Texas, Carolina laurel cherry is a dense shrub
or small tree,
15-36 ft. tall, with a pyramidal to oval
outline. Leaves are firm, smooth, evergreen,
tapered to a pointed tip and equally tapered to the base. Margins are smooth on reproductive trees, with narrow, pointed teeth on saplings and root sprouts. Upper surface is dark green and shiny, the lower surface lighter and duller. The leaves have a taste suggestive of almond flavoring and are poisonous when eaten. Flowers are white to cream, about 3/16 inch wide, in showy elongate clusters among the leaves, opening from February to April. Fruit
is fleshy, but with a thin pulp, black, 1/2 inch long by 3/8 inch wide, egg shaped with a small tip, and persistent through winter.
A handsome, evergreen,
ornamental and large hedge plant in southeastern North America, often escaping from cultivation. The greatest use of Cherry laurel is for providing a nearly carefree, dark green visual screen. Birds consume the dry fruit.
Image Gallery: 9 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Evergreen Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Elliptic Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous Leaf Margin: Entire Leaf Apex: Acute Leaf Texture:
Smooth Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Raceme Size Notes:
Can reach 36 ft but more often 15-20 ft. Leaf:
deep green Flower:
Flowers in 2 inch spikes
Black, Blue 1-1.3 cm Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr
AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TX Native Distribution:
Coastal Plain of s.e. NC to FL Panhandle, w. to e. TX; naturalized elsewhere Native Habitat:
Low woods; maritime forests; fields; thickets USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, deep, loamy, well-drained soils. Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy
Conditions Comments: Likes the moist, well-drained soils of its natural range. Prolonged saturation can cause root rot, particularly in clay soils. Shallow, nutrient-poor, rocky soils can cause chlorosis and heat stress.
A showy, attractive, fast growing, evergreen
or hedge, popular in residential landscaping in the mid-20th century. Use Wildlife:
Berries attract birds. Flowers attract bees and other insects. Warning:
The seeds, twigs, and leaves of all Prunus
species contain hydrocyanic acid and should never be eaten. Leaves of Prunus caroliniana
are particularly high in this toxin. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil. Conspicuous Flowers:
Birds Nectar Source: