American Cherry Laurel – Prunus caroliana

American Cherry Laurel
American Cherry Laurel

This evergreen tree reaches about 20-40 ft tall on rich, moist soils through Eastern North America. They range from North Carolina to Florida, and west to Louisiana and Texas. The fragrant white flowers form in late winter to early spring in long stalked clusters; they are followed by blue-black berries. Although its natural northern range is North Carolina, it does grow in this area (Delaware – Zone 7)!

The cherries are edible, but the stone is large and sparsely covered with the flesh of the fruit. Caution should be used not to crack or eat the seed. The leaves release a cherry like aroma when crushed. The leaves contain high amounts of prussic acid, making it toxic for grazing animals to eat. But birds love the berries and will feast on them into the winter if available!

It is easily propagated by seed, root suckers, or cuttings. It often forms thickets.

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