Prunus caroliniana

Accession Count: 1
Common Name: Carolina Cherry Laurel
Family Name: Rosaceae
Botanical Name: Prunus caroliniana
Synonyms:
Botanical Synonyms: Lauro-cerasus caroliniana
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: The Carolina cherry laurel is a dense shrub or small tree that can grow up to 36 feet tall. This plant takes on a pyramidal to an oval shape. The leaves are firm, smooth, evergreen, narrowly elliptic, and equally tapered to the petiole. The reproductive trees have smooth margarine leaves and the saplings have narrow pointed teeth. From February to April the tree blooms tiny white to cream-colored blossoms. The elegant flower clusters produce a fleshy fruit. This tiny fruit is deep purple and egg-shaped (5). 
Compound: Pru car
Geographic Origin: Southeastern U. S.
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Prunus caroliniana, commonly known as the Carolina cherry laurel, is a member of the genus that includes wild cherries, peaches, apricots, almonds and plums (1). Its native distribution is from the coastal plains of North Carolina to the Florida panhandle and as far west as Texas (2). This native plant should not be confused with its European relative Prunus laurocerasus also commonly called cherry laurel.
Cultivation Notes: The Carolina cherry laurel is propagated by seed, semi-hardwood cuttings, and softwood cuttings. The seeds require two to three months of cold stratification because germination can be up to 18 months (8). Seedlings should be grown in a cold frame or greenhouse for their first winter and then planted in late spring or early summer the following year. Cuttings should be started in the frame during spring to early summer (3).  The Carolina cherry laurel prefers habitats in low woods, maritime forest, and thickets. It grows well in semi-shaded conditions but seems to fruit better in the sun (2,4). Sandy, loamy and clay soils are all suitable but must be well-drained and moisture retentive to have healthy growth. Prolonged saturation can cause root rot and nutrient-poor soils, this can lead to chlorosis and heat stress (2). The Carolina cherry laurel is a relatively low maintenance evergreen shrub which requires moderate amounts of water and is both salt and drought tolerant (2).
Ethnobotany: Carolina cherry laurel is an easily grown, densely foliated evergreen, which makes it a commonly used landscaping plant for screening. Placed at a spacing of about three feet apart this plant can be pruned to create a barrier similar to a wall or fence. Though other animals can eat the fruits and leaves, people are advised against consuming them because they have high hydrogen-cyanide in the young foliage and fruits which is poisonous (3). 

Height: 20 - 50 feet
Width: 11 - 15 feet
Growth Rate: Fast Growing
Grow Season: Spring
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Cream
Function: Screen
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Toxic
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Moderate Water Use

Citations:
  1. Natural History of Carolina cherry laurel.  Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  2. Prunus Caroliniana. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  3. Plant for a Future. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  4. edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  5. wildflower.org. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  6. thepoisongarden.co.uk. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
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Prunus caroliniana