OTHER COMMON NAMES: CAROLINA CHERRY LAUREL, CAROLINA CHERRY, WILD PEACH
BOTANICAL NAME: Prunus caroliniana PROO-nus ka-ro-lin-ee-AY-nah
FAMILY: Rosaceae (Rose Family)
TYPE: Evergreen tree
HEIGHT: 25-40 feet
SPREAD: 15-20 feet
SPACING: 8-20 feet
NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Well drained moist soils of east Texas, but will adapt to wide range of soils in full sun to light shade. Cherry laurel prefers acid soil and will sometimes develop chlorosis in alkaline soils.
IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: Evergreen tree with shiny smooth, evergreen leaves. Small off-white flowers in the spring followed by black fruit.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Fragrant white flowers form in short racemes in the spring. Black fruit follows, develops into the fall and lasts usually into the winter. The fruit are eaten by birds but are dangerous to livestock. especially during a drought or after the first frost of the year. The fruit (droops) and are oval and approximately 1/2 inch long.
BARK: Gray, thin and smooth when young but develops roughness and blotches with age.
FOLIAGE: The leaves are alternate, simple and smooth, from 2 to 4 ½ inches long.
CULTURE: Cherry laurel is relatively easy to grow in most soils although will tend to become chlorotic in alkaline soils. That problem can usually be eliminated with the use of Texas greensand or the overall Sick Tree Treatment. It needs moderate moisture with good drainage. It responds well to moderate fertilizing.
PROBLEMS: Cherry laurel is highly susceptible to cotton root rot and ice storm damage so it is not a good idea to invest a lot of the landscape budget in this tree. Other occasional pests include borers and crown gall. It is a relatively short lived tree.
PROPAGATION: Can be grown from seed harvested in the late fall or from stem cuttings taken in late winter and kept under mist.
INSIGHT: Improved hybrids on the market seem to perform fairly well here in Texas.