Cherry Laurel trees - what's the scoop?

saintpflaJune 8, 2008

I have a small to med sized Cherry Laurel in a shady corner of my yard. I am not sure if it's a 'good' tree to keep and nurture or is it one to chop down and be replaced.

Do birds and other animals actually eat the fruit or no? I notice that I have a gazillion and five Cherry Laurel 'babies' on the ground under the tree canopy from all the berries sprouting. They pull up easily, but there's a lot of them.

I'm now in the process of turning this unused area of the corner yard into a little 'meditation' area, (aka: napping zone...).

I'm rather ambivalent about the tree (don't hate it/don't love it) so am looking for some data/opinions to sway me either way.

Thanks guys!

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In my old yard in Sanford, my Cherry Laurels were hosts to caterpillers that made large tents and stripped the trees bare. Maybe they turned to beautiful butterflies, back then I never noticed. But other than the little green wormies every spring, the trees were pretty.

I'm sure someone will point you to a better prospect for your meditation area for your zone - perhaps something with fragrant blooms.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 1:44PM
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They are native and the birds do like the berries. I guess it would be a personal thing as to keep it or not. I'm not wild about them mainly because of the seedlings...messy! imho

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 2:04PM
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I don't think they're good trees for the garden. They are natives, and they are eaten by birds, but they're really a weed tree. There are much more interesting and practical trees to plant, native and not. Red Bay would be a good native replacement. It has berries the birds like, fragrant leaves, and it is larval food for butterflies. It is underused and not weedy at all. A good, tough, long lived tree.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 5:28PM
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Personally , I despise Cherry Laurels . I have many , many - way too many - old growth ones and are they ever a pain in the neck .
Their wood is very brittle and limbs will snap just like glass for no reason on a clear still sunny day .
They send up suckers that run for miles . These are very difficult to pull up and will get into everything including your septic tank - no matter how far away it is .
The trees have small white flowers that many people are allergic to = lots of sneezing and congestion .
The black berries drop every where and make a squishy mess if they drop on a hard surface . Every single stinkin' berry /seed roots !
They do not do well in hurricanes and are hard to kill . Even after chopping them down , you will battle the new growth for years .
They are highly drought tolerant and seem to have few pests or diseases . They grow very , very quickly and can become large trees - if they last that long before breaking - then you are stuck with a mishapen , ugly tree .
And I haven't even gotten warmed up yet !

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 7:45PM
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babalu_aye(zone 9b - St Pete FL)

The robins feast every year on the berries on the tree next door to my house. But those darn seedlings are so hard to pull, and there are hundreds of them!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 8:57PM
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Hmmm...interesting. Yeah, the seedling are a major nuisance - definitely.

I like the height of the tree...not too big/not to0 small. I think it is mature - but I could be mistaken.

The location is on the side of my home. It's quite 'safe' as my neighbor's home is on the otherside of the fence. This location gets quite a bit of shade due to a beautiful, established old Elm-- which I feel fortunate to have. The cherry laurel and the elm are about 8 feet apart.

Thanks for the feedback. I have some thinking to do. What would a good replacement tree be in this spot? Any ideas?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 11:01PM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)

There's a mature Cherry Laurel growing on our back property line, stretching 2 large trunks up and over one corner of our backyard. Yes, the birds love it for the countless little cherries... Which, yes, do turn into countless little seedlings. Not really that much of a bother to me. The tree provides some nice shade in the summer, and indeed, I installed a bed of plants right under it for this reason.

I think it's a good all around relative low-maintenance tree. For your purposes, it could work, although there are plenty of alternatives.

However, one thing that no one has mentioned is that Cherry Laurel contains Hydrogen Cyanide in the leaves and branches, thus making it... well, highly toxic. Probably not a good idea if you've got kids or animals around.

Good luck on your meditation spot :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 11:42PM
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MM: Eeew...thanks for letting me know. I guess that means you should not use it as fire wood, huh? Geez...I know I have thrown a few branches on the fire in the past from trimming. I won't do that again!

Thanks for letting me know!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 10:20PM
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