Carolina Laurel Cherry
Prunus caroliniana - Aiton
Rosaceae (Rose) Family


Carolina Cherry is also known as Carolina Laurel Cherry, Wild Mock Orange and Cherry Laurel.

Plant is an upright small to large tree with a broad crown of spreading branches, glossy foliage, and black, inedible fruit. Height is 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 10 inches. Preferred habitat is moist soils of valleys and lowlands, forests and forest borders, often forming dense thickets.

Leaves are alternate on the stem, consisting of one whole part; evergreen, shiny, widest at the middle to lance-like, no teeth and no lobes but may have scattered teeth, tapers to the tip with sides less than equal. Leaf base is wedge shaped to rounded.

Flowers are a raceme in the leaf axil; i.e., single flowers on short stalks and arranged one above the other to form a cluster; white, ten stamens. Flowers occur in spring.

Fruit is a drupe (like a cherry); black when mature

This handsome ornamental often escapes cultivation where it is used as a hedge plant; especially in the southeastern states and in California. The partially wilted foliage contains hydrocyanic acid, which has been known to kill livestock that have browsed it. Birds consume the fruit.

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