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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Prunus caroliniana - Carolina Cherry Laurel

The Carolina Cherry Laurel is a pretty invisible tree native to the southeaster states. Growing quickly to 30' it forms an oval to rounded crown depending on being single or multi-stemmed. 



Evergreen foliage, alternate, simple, oblong elliptical, to lanceolate having a dark green shiny upper surface and entire margins. Foliage is somewhat toxic.



Flowers in early spring, small individual flowers having 5 petals, are in upright 2-3" racemes. Showy if you happen to stop near one, but something you are likely to walk right by. Fragrant, but I don't like the smell of this or some others like it.




Fruit is a 3/8" diameter black drupe.


Misidentification:
Prunus lusitanica perhaps, the foliage is similar (except the margins are serrated) as are the fruit and habit, but the inflorescences are much larger that this species.

Prunus laurocerasus is the type species for the subgenus Laurocerasus or the cherry laurels. Others in this group include P. ilicifoliaP. lyoniiP. laurocerasusP. lusitanicaP. carolinana. They all have flowers that look and smell like these.

Location:
Aptos
Twins Lake Church close to the Perimeter Rd on the Campus of Cabrillo College

Scotts Valley
Lockwood Ln. just past the entrance to Oak Tree Villa (corner of Mt Mermon and Lockwood Ln.

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