Poisonous cherry laurel tree

Updated July 19, 2017

Prunus laurocerasus rotundifolia is known more commonly as the laurel or cherry laurel. The trees are extremely common in England and are, therefore, also known as the English laurel outside the United Kingdom. Very quick growers, they are frequently used as hedging plants and they thrive in just about any location.


The cherry laurel is most prominent in the western and southern regions of Europe. It requires little sunlight to thrive and is frequently used as a barrier plant along roads and highways due to its high tolerance of pollutants.

Flowering Stalks

In the early days of summer, the cherry laurel starts producing bunches of flowering stalks. These stalks are called racemes and their primary function is to encourage the pollination process. Shortly after the racemes form, a cherry-like fruit blossoms on the plant.

Cherry Laurel Fruit

The berries that form on the cherry laurel are toxic, especially the pits of the fruit. As a matter of fact, almost the entire cherry laurel plant is poisonous to humans. The consumption of the fruit can cause digestive problems, coma, or even death.

An Aggressive Pollinator

Since the laurel is in the Evergreen family, it is never truly dormant. It encroaches on valued plants and trees, pulling the nutrients from the soil to ensure its own survival. The thick growth of leaves it produces prevents the sun from penetrating and prohibits useful plants and trees from growing beneath it. Its own offspring, however, thrive in the dark conditions allowing this aggressive pollinator to spread quickly.

Digging Up and Discarding

Because of the cherry laurel's large roots, it is difficult to simply pluck the plant from the ground like most weeds. Typically, poison will have to be applied to the plant to make certain it is fully removed. When handling the plant, the hands should be protected with rubber gloves and all contaminated items must be washed thoroughly.

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About the Author

Liam Owen has been writing since 1990. Originally focusing on poetry, he moved into the film industry penning a number of produced screenplays, such as "Snuff." Owen studied at Texas Woman's University and followed with a private study at New York University.