English laurel flowers and leaves. Photo Credit: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org
Portuguese laurel leaves. Photo Credit: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
- English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) also known as cherry laurel
- Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) also known as Portuguese cherry laurel
English and Portuguese laurels are naturalized in Oregon, Washington, California, and British Columbia. These species are large evergreen shrubs or small trees are often used for landscaping. They are often planted as ornamentals because of their resemblance to cherry trees but can escape and infest natural areas.
|Life Cycle:||Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||No|
|Height:||• English laurel: Up to 40 feet (12 meters)|
• Portuguese laurel: Up to 30 feet (9 meters)
|Leaf Description:||Dark to medium green leaves are oblong or lance shaped and alternately arranged. |
English laurel has shiny or waxy leaves whereas Portuguese laurel does not.
|Fruit & Flower Description:||Small, fragrant flowers are white and arranged in a cone-shaped clusters.|
Flowers produce dark purple berries near the end of summer or early fall.
|Bloom Time:||March to April|
- Laurels are often grown in gardens but they can escape into forest understories.
- They are hardy and can withstand tough growing conditions, including dry soils and heavy shade.
- Both species grow as large shrubs or trees which crowd out native understoryUnderstory The layer of plants that exists closer to the ground under large trees. trees, shrubs, and groundcovers.
- Their berries, leaves, and stems are toxic to eat.
What you can do about it:
- Hand pulling small laurels is effective in damp soils. It is important to remove as much of the root as possible.
- Weed wrenches can assist with removing non-native laurels. If you are in Washington County, we lend these tools for free from our tool library.
- When removing larger laurel trees, cut the trunk and stems as close to the ground as possible. Monitor the area for root suckers or new sprouts.
Non-native laurels are often confused with native chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). Chokecherry is deciduousDeciduous Trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally.. Its leaves are less waxy than both of the non-native species.
Noxious Weed Listing:
|State of Oregon:||Not listed|
|State of Washington:||Monitor|
Download the English and Portuguese Laurel Best Management Practices Factsheet
- USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service: Cherry laurel
- USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service: Portugal laurel