Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Prunus laurocerasus L.

Fully-hardy, dense, bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree with glossy, oblong leaves, to 15cm long, and upright racemes of fragrant white flowers, to 8mm across, in spring, followed by cherry-like red fruit, ripening to black.  To 8m.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

The leaves of this plant can be toxic.  ‘The Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus L.), so common in shrubberies, has caused numerous accidents both to man and the domestic animals on the Continent, and Gerlach (vide Cornevin) cited a case of the poisoning of twenty-five sheep.  The crushed leaves are used by entomologists for killing insects.  Its toxicity probably depends to some extent on locality.  Henslow remarks that in England it appears to be much less, if at all, harmful, and states that his own cows completely ruined a long laurel hedge, the abnormal food doing no damage either to the cows or to the milk they produced.’  [Long – Common Weeds of the Farm and Garden p.292/1910].

Said to have been introduced to Britain in 1629 [JD] but probably much earlier.  Saint-Hilaire Tr. pl.49/1825.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.782/1843].  Received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831 as ‘Common Laurel’.  [MP A2948].


Published Feb 05, 2010 - 03:58 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 05:27 PM

Figured are toothed leaves, upright raceme of small white flowers and unripe fruit.  Saint-Hilaire Tr. pl.49, 1825.

Prunus laurocerasus L. | Saint-Hilaire Tr. pl.49/1825 | BHL

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Europe and Asia

  • Cerasus laurocerasus Loisel.
  • Laurocerasus offininalis M.Roem.
  • Prunus lusitanica Gueldenst. ex Ledeb. 
Common Name

Cherry laurel, Laurel

Name in the Camden Park Record

Prunus lauro-cerasus - Common Laurel 

Confidence level high