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Summary and Origin Edit

English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), also known as cherry laurel and common laurel, is an evergreen species of cherry (Prunus), native to regions bordering the Black Sea in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe, from Albania and Bulgaria east through Turkey to the Caucasus Mountains and northern Iran.

It is not to be confused with its American relative Prunus caroliniana, which is also called cherry laurel.

Appearance of Fruit and Flower Edit

The leaves of this plant species can have the scent of almonds when crushed. Their flower buds appear in early spring and open in early summer in erect 7–15 cm racemes of 30–40 flowers, each flower 1 cm across, with five creamy-white petals and numerous yellowish stamens with a sweet smell. The fruit produced is a small cherry 1–2 cm broad, turning black when ripe in early autumn.

Toxicity Edit

WARNING!

Leaves and seed may cause severe discomfort to humans if ingested. The seeds contained within the cherries are poisonous like the rest of the plant, containing cyanogenic glycosides and amygdalin. This chemical composition is what gives the smell of almonds when the leaves are crushed. Laurel water, a distillation made from the plant, contains prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) and other compounds and is toxic.

English Laurels

English laurels in a clear bowl.

English Laurel Flowers

Fully developed english laurel flowers.