Laurels are generally aromatic evergreen shrubs with flowers. They can range in size from a tiny bush to an over-towering tree depending on their species and are mostly located in warm regions. Interestingly, laurels are used for many economical purposes. Their wood is commonly used as a source of timber and they also contain essential oils, which are incorporated into spices and perfumes. However, based on horticultural studies at West Virginia University, some types of laurel plants are poisonous and should not be grown near livestock.
English Laurel or Cherry Laurel
Popular in the warm-weathered areas of the southern United States, this type of laurel thrives in consistent and direct sunlight. It is able to grow rapidly and can withstand extreme pruning. However, without any pruning, its evergreen shrub will grow up to 20 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. The size of each leaf is about 5 inches in length and 2 inches wide. The English laurel (or cherry laurel) grows during the spring season with white flowers emerging from its leather-like leaves. During the fall, this plant grows small black cherries.
Native to the United States and commonly found along streams and rocky slopes, the Mountain laurel grows its shrub at a slow pace to a height of about 15 feet, with its leaves equally distributed. Unlike other laurels, which typically grow white flowers, the mountain laurel grows its flowers in other colours such as red and pink, yet also grows white ones as well.
Sweet Bay Laurel
This plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and, compared with other laurels, the Sweet Bay laurel is typically smaller in size, with a maximum growth of 12 feet. Its trunk is narrow, and although it grows flowers, its blooms are relatively small and insignificant. However, its dark green leaves are very aromatic and are widely used as a spice.
The Portugal Laurel grows relatively slowly and is very resilient, with the ability to withstand heavy wind, drought and pollution. This type of laurel is native to Portugal and Spain and is able to grow to a towering 30 feet tall. It has needle-like white flowers with leaves that can grow up to 10 inches long and also grows small berries, which can range from bright red to dark purple.
Carolina Cherry Laurel
Interestingly, the Carolina Cherry laurel can grow up to 20 feet tall but spreads twice as wide as its height. Because of its size, this type of laurel is commonly used for privacy purposes (when grown together in multiple trunks) since it's able to span wide spaces. This plant grows in southern Carolina and extends to eastern Texas. Like the Portugal laurel, the Carolina Cherry laurel can survive in harsh conditions like drought and hot, dry temperatures. Its flowers are tiny and white and bloom during the spring season.
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