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Prunus laurocerasus

Identity

Common name: Cherry laurel
Synonyms: Cerasus laurocerasus, Laurocerasus officinalis, Prunus grandiflora
Origin: Asia Minor
Plant type: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Code of conduct: Annex II
Invasive status (ISEIA protocol): Watch list
Main ornemental function: Green screen • Ornamental shrub

Description

Evergreen shrub or small tree between 3 and 8 m tall. Simple leaves, lanceolate, irregularly toothed, dark green, with bright shiny upper surface. Small white flowers grouped in erect spikes. Black fruits globulous to ovoid.

Spread

Dispersal potentiel is high. The species reproduces by seeds, dispersed by birds which consume fruits of P. laurocerasus. The cherry laurel also reproduces vegetatively by stem cutting, resprouting and root suckering.

Habitat

Forest, woodland areas with slightly acidic soils, both in well-lit and shaded conditions. Frequently planted in garden and parks.

Impact

Species classified B1 in Belgium. P. laurocerasus is included in the watch list in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria. Its invasiness is poorly documented. In Switzerland, invaded sites have been observed in woodland. In Southern and Central Europe, P. laurocerasus rapidly expands by root suckering, layering and stump sprouting. It has a dense and permanent canopy that outcompete native species, prevent forest regeneration and reduce biodiversity. In Belgium, there are no large populations in the wild. Global warming recently favoured plant installation in Atlantic conditions as well, where it is likely to become a new threat for native biodiversity. A recent study has shown that biomass of P. Laurocerasus is increasing with CO2. The plant is a potential vector of different Phytophtora pathogens. Leaves contain cyanogenic glucoside that are toxic for human. For more information, click here

Recommendation

(1) Avoid planting this species near forests, forest edges and woods, especially in the vicinity of protected areas (natural reserves, Natura 2000 sites, etc.) ; (2) cut the flowers at the end of flowering and before fructification in order to avoid seeds dispersal.

Possible native alternatives

Main ornemental function

Green screen
Ornamental shrub

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