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The Beauty of Cherry Laurel

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We have several native members of the genus Prunus in South Carolina. We’ve talked a good bit about the one that’s getting attention now for its unsightliness – black cherry, Prunus serotina, the favorite larval food source for the eastern tent caterpillars whose webs are highly visible. 

Prunus caroliniana, with the common name cherry laurel, has a different look. It’s evergreen and has dense, shiny foliage that provides cover and shelter for wildlife. Eventually it can reach heights of thirty feet but mostly you see it as a large shrub. Right now it’s covered with racemes of white flowers attractive to pollinators. These are followed by deep purple/black fruits, hundreds of them, and they seed down like mad. This is a native tree that is somewhat of a nuisance as animals devour and deposit the seeds all over the place. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.