Prunus laurocerasus

Common Name(s)

cherry laurel



Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Terrestrial. High rainfall or otherwise saturated soils (C. Ogle, pers. comm.). Found in plantations, around shelterbelts, roadsides, wastelands and in lowland areas (Webb et al., 1988). Relics of cultivation are very common in settled areas especially around old homesteads, domains and parks (Webb et al., 1988). Riverine forest (C. Ogle, pers. comm.). On an alluvial terraca (J. Barkle, pers. comm.).


Evergreen, wide, spreading shrub or tree, to 10 m tall. The leaves are thick, oval to lance-shaped, with a slightly serrated margin, and are 10-15 cm long. Leaves occur alternately, on short, thick stalks, and have glandular depressions and hairs near the base. The upper surface is dark green, smooth and shining with obvious lighter green veins, the underside of the leaf is paler and less shining. Flowers are small (2-5 mm) and white, with five petals. They grow in bunches of 20-30. Flowering is from Aug-Sept. The fruit resembles black cherries, but grows in clusters like grapes. It is bird dispersed. Fruiting is from Nov-Jan.

Similar Taxa

Evergreen, widespreading shrub or tree up to 10m high; leaves 90-150mm long x 30-50mm wide; leaves shining above with prominent paler veins, less shining below; flower stalks 100-120mm long with 20-30 flowers; 5 petals, greenish white to cream; fruit about 10mm long, ovoid, dark purple, smooth (Webb et al., 1988).


August, September

Flower Colours



November, December, January

Year Naturalised



SE Europe

Reason For Introduction

Life Cycle Comments

Fruit probably eaten and spread by kereru (C. Ogle, pers. comm.).

Poisonous plant:
The kernels of the black fruit are poisonous if eaten.

This page last updated on 5 Dec 2010