Cherry Laurel
(Prunus laurocerasus)
Shrub, Toothless, Evergreen





distribution map

The alternate, leathery leaves are dark green and very glossy above, paler below with a few scattered teeth along the margin. They are 5-18 cm long on a short stalk up to 10 mm long. When crushed the leaves smell of almonds (unlike Spurge-laurel which do not smell of almonds).

ID check

Cherry Laurel is an evergreen shrub, branching from the base, up to 6 m high. It was widely introduced as an ornamental hedge plant and suited to almost all kinds of soil.

Long spikes of dull white 5-petalled flowers, 8 mm across, arise from leaf axils in April.

Round berries develop, red at first, but shiny black when ripe in autumn. 


  • The leaves contain prussic acid or cyanide and were formerly crushed and used in jars by entomologists, to kill butterflies and other insects.

  • It is often planted as game cover in woodlands in winter, as the leaves keep the ground beneath warm and dry.

  • It is a native of South East Europe, introduced into Britain in 1576.


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