|Prunus laurocerasus subsp. var.||Cherry laurel|
It is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to 5–15-m tall, rarely to 18-m tall, with a trunk up to 60-cm broad. The leaves are dark green, leathery, shiny, (5–)10–25(–30)-cm wide and 4–10-cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flower buds appear in early spring and open in early summer in erect 7–15-cm racemes of 30–40 flowers, each flower 1-cm broad, with five creamy-white petals and numerous yellowish stamens. The fruit is a small cherry 1–2-cm broad, turning black when ripe in early autumn.
Prunus laurocerasus has been widely planted as an ornamental plant in temperate regions worldwide, and has become naturalised widely in some areas. It is often used for screening, and also as a mass landscape and ground cover plant. Most forms are tough shrubs that can cope with difficult growing conditions (including shaded and dry conditions), and which respond well to pruning. The foliage is also used for cut greenery in floristry.
In some regions (such as the United Kingdom and the Pacific Northwest of North America), this species can be an invasive plant. Its rapid growth, coupled with its evergreen habit and its tolerance of drought and shade, often allow it to out-compete and kill off native plant species. It is spread by birds, through the seeds in their droppings.
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). It is noted for attracting wildlife.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Prunus laurocerasus, Linn. (Cerasus Laurocerasus, Loisel. Padus Laurocerasus, Mill. Laurocerasus offici- nalis, Roem.). Cherry-laurel. English Laurel. Bush or small tree (reaching 10 ft.) with handsome evergreen foliage: lvs. coriaceous and glossy, short- stalked, oval, lanceolate, oblong-elliptic or oblanceo- late, narrowed into a short point, remotely serrulate, with 2-4 glands at the base of the blade: fls. small, white, in axillary or terminal short racemes in spring, the calyx-lobes 3-toothed: fr. ovoid-acute, small, blackish. S. E. Eu. to N. Persia. Gn. 50, p. 313.—One of the most popular broad-lvd. evergreen plants in Eu., and somewhat planted in the southern states. It is also grown in tubs and used for house-decoration. Some of the forms will stand as far north as Washington, and var. schipkaensis is hardy in Cent. N. Y. When grown in the open, the cherry-laurel should be allowed to ripen its wood thoroughly before winter sets in. Protection from severe winds is always desirable. The plant may be prop, by means of long cuttings of ripe wood; also by layers. Named varieties are worked on common stocks. The cherry-laurel is very variable. Some of the many horticultural forms are as follows: Var. angustifolia, Nichols., lvs. very long and narrow, and plant hardy as far north as Washington; var. Bertinii, with very broad lvs.; var. camelliaefolia, Nichols., with recurved lvs.; var. caucasica, Hort., and var. colchica, Hort., with slender twigs and dark foliage which is gray-green beneath, also hardy; var. japonica, Hort., a narrow-lvd. form, like var. angusti- folia; var. latifolia, Hort., with broad lvs., hardy at Washington; var. versaillensis, Hort., also with broad foliage; var. microphylla, Hort., with small, narrow lvs., only 4-5 in. long; var. rotundifolia, Nichols., with short-oblong blunt lvs. (Gn. 28, p. 405); var. parvifolia, Nichols., lvs. only 1 1/2in. long and 1/2in. broad, coarsely serrate: shrub; var. schipkaensis, Spaeth, with small nearly or completely entire lvs. dark green above and very light green beneath, shrubby, hardy in N. Y. (R.H. 1905. p. 409. G.W. 5, p. 177, var. schipkaensis Zabeliana); var. variegata, Nichols., lvs. marbled or blotched with dull white. CH
Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 11]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone. Prefers some chalk in the soil but it is apt to become chlorotic if too much is present, growing badly on shallow chalk[98, 200]. Extremely tolerant of shade, it succeeds in the dense shade of trees with almost no direct light and in their drip line[197, 200], though it fruits better in a more sunny position. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties. The cultivar 'Otto Luyken' is a low growing narrow-leafed form that flowers in spring and autumn. The tiny flowers are powerfully fragrant but have a rather offensive odour. This is a matter of opinion, some people find the smell sweet and delightful[K]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, it should be introduced with care since it often self-sows in woodlands and can prevent the successful regeneration of native trees by shading out the seedlings. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. The flowers attract butterflies and moths. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. Subject to bacterial canker which can kill large branches. Trim (preferably with secateurs) in spring or late summer. Old plants can be cut back hard into the old wood in spring and will soon recover.
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. Cuttings of mature wood, October in a sheltered north facing border outdoors. Layering in spring.
Pests and diseases
- 'Aureovariegata', variegated, leaves with a yellow margin.
- 'Cherry Brandy' - A low growing form, it can be used for ground cover in sunny or shady positions[182, 197].
- 'Camelliifolia' - A large shrub, growing more than 4 metres tall and wide[K]. The fruit is the size of a large cherry, it is borne abundantly and has a pleasant flavour when fully ripe with a jelly-like texture, though there is a slight astringency[K].
- 'Magnifolia', vigorous, with great leaves up to 30-cm wide and 11-cm broad.
- 'Otto Luyken' (named after Otto Luyken), half-dwarf, with small leaves 10-cm wide and 2–3-cm broad. This is a low growing narrow-leaved form that flowers freely in the spring and again in the autumn. It grows about 1.2 metres tall and makes a very good ground cover for sun or shade[182, 197].
- 'Schipkaensis' - A very hardy low growing form to about 2 metres in height[11, 200], it can succeed outdoors in colder climates than other forms of the species, tolerating the cold winters of continental northern Germany and parts of North America. It can be used for ground cover in sunny or shady positions[182, 197].
- 'Zabelina' - A low growing very hardy form that can succeed in areas with winters as cold as those of northern Germany. The leaves that are almost willow-like. It seldom grows more than 90cm tall but will usually eventually become 3.5 metres or more wide. Very free-flowering, it is very useful for ground cover in sunny or shady positions[11, 182, 197]. It retains its low habit even when growing in shade.
- ↑ Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Prunus laurocerasus
- ↑ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Prunus laurocerasus
- ↑ Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
- ↑ Flora of NW Europe: Prunus laurocerasus
- ↑ Evergreen.ca Invasive Plant Profile
- ↑ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
- Plants for a Future - source of some of the creative commons text
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963