Cherry Laurel

Prunus laurocerasus

Family: Rosaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , ,

Description

A multi-stemmed, vigorous, spreading, evergreen shrub, occasionally a small tree.

It has large, leathery oblong leaves with bright green shiny upper surfaces. The veins are distinctively yellow and the under surface of the leaves are pale and dull.

Upright spikes of tiny, strongly scented ivory flowers appear in spring.

Cherry-sized berries (drupes), which ripen from green to purple-black, are produced through summer and autumn.

It has been used widely in the Mountains as a hedge plant.

Don’t confuse with…

Cherry Laurel seedlings look very much like juvenile native Pittosporum undulatum plants. The leaves of Cherry Laurel have more prominent and paler veins.

Dispersal

It is spread by birds that eat the fruit, as well as in dumped garden waste.

Impact on bushland

Cherry Laurel replaces and crowds out native plants. Little grows below, except for its own seedlings, reducing the diversity of native plants and therefore the habitat they provided to native wildlife.

Distribution

,

Alternative planting

Native plants

Screening shrubs and small trees such as:

  • Hakea dactyloides
  • Grevillea acanthifolia
  • She Oaks (Casuarina littoralis, C. distyla or C. torulosa)
  • Callistemon spp
  • Acacia spp
  • Leptospermum spp

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

Seedlings can be hand pulled if all the roots are removed.

Use the cut and paint method to treat more established plants, using herbicide.

Larger plants can be stem injected.

The berries are bird spread. It is best to treat plants before they fruit. Bag any fruit or seed and dispose of in a hot compost to kill the seeds. Other parts of the plant can be spread out to dry off the ground. Once dead, the material will decompose in place or can be composted.

Cut stems left on the ground can grow new shoots and roots particularly when the soil is moist.

Note: care needs to be taken when handling prunings as Cherry Laurel leaves contain a poison that can be harmful if ingested.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: