Prunus caroliniana

Botanical Name : Prunus caroliniana
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. caroliniana
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Laurocerasus caroliniana. (Mill.)Roem.

Common Names: American Cherry Laurel, Carolina laurelcherry, Laurel Cherry, Cherry laurel, or Carolina cherry

Habitat : Prunus caroliniana is native to the lowlands of Southeastern United States, from North Carolina south to Florida and westward to central Texas. The species has also escaped into the wild in a few places in California. It grows on deep, well-drained rich moist bottomlands, bluffs or streambanks.
Description:
Prunus caroliniana is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree which grows to about 5–13 meters (16–43 ft) tall, with a spread of about 6–9 meters (20–30 ft). The leaves are dark green, alternate, shiny, leathery, elliptic to oblanceolate, 5–12 cm (2–4.5 in) long, usually with an entire (smooth) margin, but occasionally serrulate (having subtle serrations), and with cuneate bases. Reproductively mature trees have entire margins, whereas immature ones often have subtle serrations. The twigs are red to grayish brown, slender, and glabrous.

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Fragrant white to cream-colored flowers are produced in racemes (stalked bunches) 5–8 cm (2–3 in) long in the late winter to early spring. The fruits are tiny black cherries about 1 cm (0.5 in) in diameter, which persist through winter and are primarily consumed by birds (February – April).
It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
Characteristics:
The leaves and branches contain high amounts of cyanogenic glycosides that break down into hydrogen cyanide when damaged, making it a potential toxic hazard to grazing livestock and children. Due to this, it is considered highly deer-resistant. When crushed, its leaves and green twigs emit a fragrance described as resembling maraschino cherries or almond extract..

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Screen, Standard, Street tree, Woodland garden. Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil.   Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone.  Prefers some chalk in the soil but apt to become chlorotic if too much is present. Fairly wind-resistant[200]. One report says that this species is tender in most of Britain, whilst another says that it succeeds in climatic zone 7 (tolerating frosts down to about -15°c). A fast-growing but short-lived tree. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features:North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
The fruit might be edible. It has a thick skin and a thin dry flesh[82] and is not edible. It is slightly toxic to humans. The fruit is about 13mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
Other Uses:
Dye; Hedge; Hedge; Shelterbelt; Wood.

Amenable to trimming, this plant can be grown as a screen and hedge. It can also be used in shelterbelt plantings. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. Wood – hard, heavy, strong, close grained. The trees are seldom large enough for the wood to be exploited commercially.

Known Hazards: The leaves and young branches of this species contain considerable quantities of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+caroliniana
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_caroliniana

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