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Cherry Laurel

Invasive Species Information

Cherry Laurel - Prunus laurocerasus Biodiversity High Risk Invasive Species 18

What Is Cherry Laurel - (Prunus laurocerasus)?

Habitat: Terrestrial
Distribution in Ireland: Widespread

Status: Established

Family name: Rosaceae

Common name/s: Cherry laurel, common laurel, English laurel

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 across, with five creamy-white petals and numerous yellowish stamens with a sweet smell.

Cherry Laurel - Prunus laurocerasus Biodiversity High Risk Invasive Species

Cherry Laurel fruit

Bohemian knotweed - Fallopia x bohemica Biodiversity High Risk Invasive Species 20

Cherry laurel is an evergreen shrub or small to medium-sized tree, growing to 5 to 15 metres  tall, rarely to 18 metres, with a trunk up to 60 cm broad.

 

The leaves are dark green, leathery, shiny, 5–30) cm long and 4–10 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin.

 

Leaves can have the scent of almonds when crushed.

Cherry Laurel Branch

The fruit is a small cherry 1–2 cm broad, turning black when ripe in early autumn can have the scent of almonds when crushed.

 

Leaves, fruit and seed may cause severe discomfort to humans if ingested.

 

The seeds contained within the cherries are poisonous like the rest of the plant, containing cyanogenic glycosides and amygdalin.

 

This chemical composition is what gives the smell of almonds when the leaves are crushed. Laurel water, a distillation made from the plant, contains prussic acid and other compounds and is toxic.

How To Identify Cherry Laurel?

Cherry Laurel - Prunus laurocerasus Biodiversity High Risk Invasive Species

Cherry Laurel - Elodea canadensis leaves

Leafdark green, leathery, shiny, 5–30) cm long and 4–10 cm broad
Flower1 cm across, with five creamy-white petals and numerous yellowish stamens with a sweet smell.
Fruitsmall cherry 1–2 cm broad, turning black when ripe containing single seeds.

Cherry Laurel - Prunus laurocerasus Biodiversity High Risk Invasive Species

Cherry Laurel fruit & seed

Cherry Laurel - Prunus laurocerasus Biodiversity High Risk Invasive Species

Cherry Laurel flowers

Why Is Cherry Laurel A Problem?

Cherry Laurel is an alien (non-native) invasive plant, meaning it out-competes crowds-out and displaces beneficial native plants that have been naturally growing in Ireland for centuries.

 

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..

European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 non-native invasive plant species A-Z (Updated 2017)

There are currently 35 invasive plant species listed in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations (annex 2, Part 1)...

 

Click on a species from the following list to find out more regarding non-native species subject to restrictions under Regulations 49 and 50.

Non-Native Plant Species identified as High Risk on Ireland's Biodiversity List...

Environment 

Terrestrial

Freshwater

Terrestrial

Terrestrial

Marine

Freshwater

Freshwater

Freshwater

Terrestrial

Terrestrial

Terrestrial

Terrestrial

Marine

Terrestrial

Freshwater

Freshwater

Freshwater

Terrestrial

Freshwater

Marine

Risk score 

20

19

18

19

18

19

21

20

19

18

18

19

19

20

20

19

20

20

20

18