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Cherry Laurel Thickets

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cherry laurel Prunus caroliniana is one of our native members of the genus prunus. Unlike its deciduous relative, Prunus serotina, this evergreen plant with dense foliage is somewhat cold sensitive and is found in the coastal plains of the gulf and Atlantic states from North Carolina to Texas. In past centuries, this fast growing plant was used extensively for hedges. It is well-adapted to that purpose as it can be heavily pruned for years and years and still be healthy and attractive. Edward Gilmam, Florida Extension’s plant guru, says it makes a good highway or street tree for areas where you can mow beneath it. Otherwise, you will have seedlings galore and in naturalized areas you do find dense thickets of this plant. It’s the larval food plants for numerous lepidopteran larvae, pollinators visit the flowers and birds and mammals consume the fruits.

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.