Plants

Prunus laurocerasus

Main characteristics of prunus laurocerasus

Prunus laurocerasus is a medium-sized evergreen shrub native to Asia. It is widespread in Italy and belongs to the large genus of cherry laurel and has a rather compact and dense vegetation. The leaves have a characteristic oval and lanceolate shape with toothed margins. They have a leathery consistency and are shiny with a very intense green color. In spring, small white star-shaped flowers appear at the apex of the branches. They are grouped in panicles and their scent is perceptible even from a great distance. The following fruits are small and have an appearance completely comparable to olives. Their pulp contains a high percentage of hydrogen cyanide which makes them poisonous both for humans and for animals that would like to eat them.

How to grow cherry laurel


The cherry laurel is very popular due to the fact that it does not require special care or a lot of attention to grow and thrive. They need to be placed in a well-lit area but can survive well even in semi-shaded places. They are not particularly afraid of the cold and can even survive temperatures that drop below -10 ° C for prolonged periods. However, the outermost leaves can be damaged by the intense cold but this does not entail any problems for the plant which will start producing new shoots in the following season. Before planting a new plant it is necessary to work the soil well and enrich it with mature manure. If the soil is not draining enough, it is advisable to mix it with river sand.

Method of propagation


The cherry laurel spreads easily through cuttings. They must be taken in late spring or during the first weeks of summer. The twigs will have a length between 7 and 10 centimeters. First remove the leaves present in the lower part and then dip the section of the cut in a rooting powder available at all specialist floriculture shops. Prepare a universal soil enriched with sand to increase its natural drainage. To facilitate rooting, it is preferable to place the cuttings in a semi-shaded area and always keep the soil moist. The young cuttings are left to grow in pots for two years and then planted in the chosen position. The cherry laurel can also be propagated by seed.

Prunus laurocerasus: Use in herbal medicine


The seeds and leaves of prunus laurocerasusthey contain not only high percentages of hydrogen cyanide but also many other active ingredients that are used both in the official pharmacopoeia and in herbal medicine. The plant has been known for centuries to have sedative and antispasmodic properties, and the leaves are commonly used to create particularly effective eye washes. Since the whole plant contains toxic substances, both the leaves and the seeds must be used cold to avoid the extraction of the hydrocyanic acid. The pulp of the fruit is edible but its sour taste is not appreciated by everyone. Until a few decades ago for some populations it was the only important source of vitamins and precious minerals. At an industrial level, the aroma of bitter mandrels is extracted from the leaves.

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