The lauroceraso is a shrub, or small tree, native to Asia and Europe, very common in Italian gardens; it belongs to the genus prunus, as well as many highly cultivated fruit plants.
It is a vigorous and resistant shrub, evergreen, with dense and compact vegetation; the leaves are oval, lanceolate, with toothed margin, slightly leathery and shiny, dark green in color; in the spring, at the apex of the branches, small white star flowers bloom, gathered in erect panicles; they have a very intense perfume, which can be unpleasant.
Flowers follow small black berries, similar to opaque olives; the berries and leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, they are therefore decidedly very toxic, even if they have a disgusting taste, and therefore they are not at all inviting for humans or animals.
The vigor of development, dense and compact vegetation and fairly rapid development has made these shrubs very popular as hedge plants, especially in past years. In fact, this abuse of laurocerasi has made them sometimes not very popular plants, even if they are very interesting shrubs, especially for those who love to have a low-maintenance garden: they do not get sick often, they tend not to be hit by pests, they bear the cold, humidity and heat, and have a decidedly pleasant aspect, especially if grown as single specimens, or sapling, and therefore they can be admired in their entire development, and not compressed within a hedge. There are some very popular varieties on the market, including some with particularly dark, reddish or brown leaves.
Description and origins
The cherry laurel it is a shrub or small tree belonging to the Rosaceae family and to the vast genus of prunus. It can reach a height of 10 meters and, in nature, has an expanded shape.
It has elliptic to oblong or obovate leaves, up to 20 cm long and 6 wide, pointed at the apex and generally not very toothed. The upper part ranges from shiny yellowish to very dark green. The lower part, on the other hand, is pale green.
The bark is gray-brown, smooth and the flowers are 8 mm wide, white, with 5 petals and fragrant. They are collected in erect racemes, 12 cm long, at the axil of the leaves in mid spring. It happens that they bloom again in the autumn. The fruits are berry, round and 1.2 cm wide, first green, then red and black when ripe. It originates from south-western Asia, in particular from Armenia, and from eastern Europe. Its original habitat is forest thickets.
In nature, the plant is disseminated thanks to the animals and in particular thanks to the blackbirds and starlings which feed on its fruits by expelling the seeds far from the place of origin.
Precisely because of this reproductive capacity, it has become an invasive plant throughout Europe and efforts are being made to hinder its spread in many countries.