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Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana Aiton)

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Carolina Laurelcherry
Photo © Annika Lindqvist, CC BY 4.0.

Range - Expand

Native or Not Present
Introduced or Not Present
Native or Expanded
Expanded or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.

This plant is widely cultivated outside its native range, but readily spreads by bird-distributed seeds, and as a result has escaped into the wild at numerous populations. We mark eastern populations in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky expanded because they are adjacent to the native range, whereas the isolated California populations we mark introduced.


Found in rich woodlands, typically growing among other hardwoods, in conditions that are moist but well-drained and have acidic soil. Resistant to browsing by mammalian herbivores and can be found in areas with heavy deer browsing.


Widely used as a landscaping plant, including outside of its native range, which has led to its introduction to the West Coast as well as expansion of its range northward in the east.

It is valued for its evergreen nature, attractive flowers and fruit, ease of transplanting, and good response to pruning, even heavy pruning. It can be used as a hedge.

Its use in landscaping can be limited by its tendency to form root suckers, and it it best avoided in areas outside its native range due to its tendency to seed aggressively and establish in the wild. It is also toxic to humans and most pets.

Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Prunus caroliniana (Cherry Laurel) | Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder (About This Site)

Carolina Laurelcherry | Virginia Tech Dendrology Factsheets (About This Site)

Prunus caroliniana | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Prunus caroliniana | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Prunus caroliniana | Flora of North America (About This Site)

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Photo © Annika Lindqvist, CC BY 4.0.