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 lusitanica L.

Frost-hardy, dense, bushy, evergreen shrub or tree with red-stalked, glossy, elliptic leaves, to 12cm long, and slender racemes, to 25cm long, of fragrant, cup-shaped white flowers, to 1.5cm across, in spring, followed by cherry-like red fruit, ripening to black.  To 20m.  A useful hedging plant.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘In the Portugal Laurel Prunus lusitanica (Lusitania being an old name for Spain and Portugal) we have one of our largest and handsomest evergreens.  Seen at its best in the sunshine of June, it stands before us as a veritable tree, its shining dark-green leaves, narrower and darker than those of the Common Laurel, gleaming in the sunlight, and its slender spikes of flowers rising straight up from the axils of the leaves and decking it, as it were, with an overdress of dull silver, so numerous, so closely packed are these graceful flower racemes.  It should not be clipped, and above all it should not be crowded if it is to do justice to its great possibilities of beauty.  Given free play and a good situation we have no other evergreen shrub to match it for imposing dignity.  It may be fifty feet high, or it may rank among the shrubs and be merely twice a man’s height.  The flower spikes are none of them borne at the end of the branches as they are in the Common Laurel, but come on the previous year’s wood, and stand quite erect.  The flowers are again of the Rose type for this Laurel, too, belongs to the Rose family, and the fruits are pointed purple berries, much beloved by the birds, who will quickly strip a tree of them.  The Portugal Laurel has no glands on the back of the leaves, and the shrub does not carry the aromatic oils that we find in the Common Laurel.’  [Nuttall – Beautiful flowering Shrubs p.82/1922].

Introduced to Britain in 1648.  [JD]. 

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.783/1843].


Prunus lusitanica Gueldenst. ex Ledeb. (1841) = Prunus laurocerasus L.  which see.

Prunus lusitanica Walter (1788) = Prunus caroliniana Ait.

Published Feb 05, 2010 - 04:04 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 05:28 PM

The photograph shows glossy, wavy-edged leaves and long racemes of small white flowers.  Nuttall p.82/1922.

Prunus lusitanica L. | Nuttall – Beautiful flowering Shrubs p.82/1922 | BHL

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

South west Europe

Common Name

Portugal laurel

Name in the Camden Park Record

Prunus Lusitanica - Portugal Laurel 

Confidence level high