Prunus caroliniana
Common Name: cherry laurel 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Southern United States
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: February to April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Flowering Tree, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought


Best in moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Established plants have good drought tolerance. Propagate by cuttings, root suckers or seed. Will self-seed in the landscape.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus caroliniana, commonly called cherry laurel, is an evergreen tree or large shrub that is native to low woods, fields and thickets from southeastern North Carolina to Florida west to Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. It is most often seen growing 15-20' tall but may rise in tree form to as much as 40' tall. Glossy, lanceolate-oblong dark green leaves (to 2-4" long) have pointed tips. Fragrant white flowers (each to 3/16" across) bloom in dense racemes (2-3" long) in late winter to early spring (February to April). Flowers (each to 5/16" long) are followed by green fruits which initially turn reddish purple before ripening in fall to shiny black. Birds love the fruit.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means from North Carolina or South Carolina.


No serious insect or disease problems. Leaves contain high quantities of prussic acid (cyanide) and must never be eaten. Borers can be a problem particularly with trees under stress. Watch for mites.


Specimen, hedge, windbreak or screen.