Latin name: Prunus laurocerasus
The cherry laurel is an evergreen shrub. It grows to between two and three meters tall and spreads out to form a thick, bushy hedge. When it grows in the wild, its dense thickets are excellent ground cover for wildlife.
The cherry laurel is so named because its leaves are very similar to a laurel trees’ leaves, but they are not related at all. This laurel is a relation of plum, apricot and cherry trees. However, be very careful around this shrub as it is highly poisonous, and the small cherry-like fruit is not edible.
The dark green, glossy leaves of the cherry laurel are leathery to touch and are a long, oval shape. Sometimes the edges can be a little jagged near the tip of the leaves. The flower buds begin to appear in early spring, and open out in full bloom by early summer. These flowers are pollinated by bees, hoverflies, Peacock and Tortoishell Butterflies.
Have you ever seen a cherry laurel? It’s really very easy to recognise! About thirty to forty tiny, delicate, creamy-coloured flowers all grow together in long, cone-shaped clusters. They have a lovely fragrant scent, making it one of the most attractive shrubs in the countryside.
In the summer time, if you look closely you can see the small red cherry-like fruit nestled among the leaves. The fruit eventually turns a purple-black colour when it ripens in the early autumn. This plant is so poisonous that it is one of the very few shrubs that deer do not eat, so remember not to eat the berries!