The Pros and Cons of Black Cherry and Cherry Laurel

Apr 11, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Both Prunus serotina, black cherry, and Prunus caroliniana, cherry laurel, contain prussic acid, cyanide, and the wilted leaves especially are harmful to horses and cattle. If you crush the leaves of black cherry, you can really smell that acrid compound. On the other hand, if you rub cherry laurel glossy evergreen leaves together between your hands, they smell just like maraschino cherries. Cherry laurels are easy to grow in almost any circumstances with moderate winter temperatures, they even have some salt tolerance, but are not well adapted to extreme drought or high temperatures. They were planted extensively from Dallas into west Texas, a harsh environment, and an extended drought killed almost all of them. We have some pretty tough summers in South Carolina, but nothing like that part of the world, where unirrigated shade trees are few and far between.