Laurel cherry

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Laurel cherry
Cherry laurel shrub in bloom

Cherry laurel shrub in bloom

Order : Rose-like (rosales)
Family : Rose family (Rosaceae)
Subfamily : Spiraeoideae
Tribe : Stone fruit family (Amygdaleae)
Genre : Prunus
Type : Laurel cherry
Scientific name
Prunus laurocerasus

The laurel cherry ( Prunus laurocerasus , syn .: Laurocerasus officinalis ), also called Pontic laurel cherry and popularly cherry laurel , is a species of the rose family (Rosaceae). It originally comes from Asia Minor . Their common names received this plant due to its cherry-like drupes and because of the laurel-like leaves. Their varieties are used as largely frost-hardy ornamental shrubs in parks and gardens. In 2013 she was named Poisonous Plant of the Year .


Inflorescences with buds and opened flowers
Fruits of the 'Macrophylla' variety
Laurel cherry leaf

The cherry laurel is an evergreen shrub or tree that reaches heights of up to 7 meters. In severe winters with temperatures in the range of −20 ° C, all leaves and a large part of the branches freeze to death. In most cases the plant will sprout again. The 8 to 15 centimeter long leaves are similar in shape to the real laurel ( Laurus nobilis ), from which the incorrect designation as "cherry laurel", primarily by landscape gardeners ("laurel" sounds more noble than "cherry"), goes back.

The flowering period extends from April to June. Many pleasantly fragrant flowers are grouped together in a terminal, racemose inflorescence . The hermaphroditic flowers are radial symmetry and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The spherical fruits are initially green and black when ripe.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 144 or 170–180.


At the upper end of the petiole there are usually two, rarely three, red, extra-floral nectaries , where sugar juice is released. As has been suspected for a long time, it is "police food" for ants . The nectar production in the glands is particularly high in the first few weeks after buds have sprouted and attracts large quantities of the formica obscuripes ant , which attack the harmful caterpillars or aphids, which are still small.


Cherry laurel varieties also thrive in inhospitable places and are used as largely frost-hardy ornamental shrubs in parks and gardens. They are used both solitary or as hedge plants. Apart from small-stature varieties, the woody plant is unsuitable for small gardens due to its vigor without regular pruning, as it can occupy a large area in a short time and can also develop into a kind of "weed" through self-sowing under favorable site conditions. This is particularly problematic if the plant spreads in the undergrowth of the forests and thus displaces the native natural vegetation. That is why the cherry laurel is on the black list of neophytes in many areas and should no longer be planted outside of its natural range. Native species can be used as substitute plants for gardens.

In addition to its use as an ornamental plant, the cherry laurel has also achieved an important function in restoration and preparation . Since the beginning of the 21st century, the leaves with the highest possible proportion of hydrogen cyanide have been used to soften or soften organic materials - without causing water damage. For example, dried insects can be made mobile again if they are kept in a closed container over the cut leaves for a few days (replace leaves daily and avoid direct contact). Even fabrics that have been folded for a long time, as we know them from graves, can be made pliable again using this method. The method was rediscovered in the 1990s by Klaus Wechsler ( Übersee-Museum ).

Varieties (selection)

variety growth height width leaf properties
'Caucasica' strong up to 4 m 1.50 m 14 × 5 cm hardy
'Cherry Brandy' strong 1 m 3 m 11 × 6 cm very hardy
'Diana' medium strength 2 m 2 m 10 × 7 cm bronze-red shoots
'Etna' ('Anbri') medium strength 2 m 2 m 12 × 5 cm bronze-red shoots
'Genolia' strong 3–4 m 0.80 m narrow extremely hardy, very good for narrow hedges
'Green Survival' very strong 2-3 m 2-3 m 15 × 6 cm
'Herbergii' strong 2-3 m 2 m 12 × 5 cm very hardy
'Leander' strong 2 m 2 m 15 × 3 cm
'Low'n Green' weak 50 cm 1-2 m candle-like
'Mano' medium strength 1-2 m 2 m 10 × 5 cm
'Macrophylla' very strong 3–4 m
'Miky' strong 2 m 2 m 12 × 2 cm
'Mischeana' very strong 1-3 m 2-3 m 12 × 5 cm
'Mount Vernon' very low 35 cm 1 m 11 × 4 cm
'Novita' very strong 2-3 m 2-3 m 15 × 7 cm similar to Rotundifolia, better frost hardy
'Otto Luyken' medium strength 1 m 1-2 m 11 × 3 cm frost hardy, named after Otto Luyken
'Paradise' strong 1-2 m 2-3 m 12 × 5 cm
'Reynvaanii' very strong 2 m 2 m 14 × 5 cm
'Rotundifolia' very strong 2-3 m 2-3 m 15 × 7 cm endangered by frost
'Rudolf Billeter' very strong 2-3 m 2-3 m 11 × 3 cm
'Schipka Holland' strong 2 m 2-3 m 11 × 5 cm
'Schipkaensis' strong 2 m 2 m 11 × 4 cm
'Schipkaensis Macropylla' strong 2 m 2 m 16 × 7 cm very hardy
'Van Nes' medium strength 1-2 m 2 m 11 × 5 cm
'Zabeliana' medium strength 1-2 m 2-3 m 12 × 3 cm


Fresh, ripe fruits taste sweet with a bitter aftertaste. In Turkey, the cherry laurel is cultivated for its fruits. These are consumed there as dried fruits. The pulp can be used to make jam or jelly. As with almost all fruits of the genus Prunus, the seeds contain prunasin , a cyanogenic glycoside . In the stomach, chewed seeds develop the poisonous hydrocyanic acid , seeds swallowed whole are harmless. After ingesting leaves or up to 10 chewed seeds, nausea , vomiting , increased pulse rate ( tachycardia ) and cramps may occur. If more than 10 seeds are chewed, cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest can occur. When cooking, however, the hydrocyanic acid compounds are destroyed. Leaves and seeds contain more prunasin than the pulp. The information center against poisoning classifies all plant parts as poisonous.

Diseases and frost damage

Even if the cherry laurel is considered to be an easy-care and well-acclimated plant at home, three diseases in particular can often be observed: powdery mildew , downy mildew and shotgun disease . Since these three diseases are fungal infections , treatment with an appropriate fungicide is often unavoidable.

A common when cherry laurel pest is the night active weevil . An infestation can initially be recognized by the eaten leaves. The vine weevil larvae nest under the ground and attack the cherry laurel roots, which can ultimately die off.

Even if the cherry laurel is considered an evergreen hedge plant and in principle hardy , damage can be observed again and again after the winters. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is not the cold that causes the plants to freeze to death , but rather a lack of water . The cherry laurel evaporates a lot of water over the leaf surfaces, especially when temperatures rise rapidly . If the severe cold has previously frozen the soil through, the plant will not be able to draw enough water from the soil to meet its water needs. The resulting brown leaves are a clear sign of this lack of water. Appropriate watering and cutting back the brown leaves / areas can help.


  • L. Roth, M. Daunderer, K. Kormann: Poison plants - plant poisons . Nikol, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-933203-31-7 .

Web links

Commons : Laurel Cherry ( Prunus laurocerasus )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Laurel cherry  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Pontic laurel cherry. In:
  2. a b c Profile of Prunus laurocerasus PDF.
  3. ^ Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . 8th edition. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 . Page 572.
  4. Grün Stadt Zürich (ed.): Substitute plants for cherry laurel . 2016 ( [PDF]).
  5. Canton Zug, Office for Environmental Protection (Ed.): Alternatives to unwanted and forbidden exotic plants: Advice for gardeners and home owners . 2013 ( [PDF]).
  6. Andreas Gigon: Substitute plant species for the undesirable alien species (invasive neophytes) of the blacks and the watch list of Switzerland . 2012 ( [PDF]).
  7. Vollbrecht Dericks-Tan: On the trail of wild fruits in Europe. Abadi-Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-00-021129-4 , pp. 270-271.
  8. ^ Müfit Bahadir: Springer Umweltlexikon. Springer-Verlag, 2000, ISBN 978-3-642-56998-2 , p. 519. Restricted preview in the Google book search
  9. ^ Franz-Xaver Reichl: Pocket Atlas Toxicology. Thieme-Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-13-108973-1 , pp. 272-273.
  10. ^ Information center against poisoning 2008: Information center against poisoning: Laurel cherry. In: Accessed December 31, 2014 .
  11. NDR: Fighting black weevils successfully. Retrieved July 2, 2020 .