Prunus laurocerasus L.

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English Cherry laurel ISEIA: C1
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Report the species

Report Prunus laurocerasus to the National Museum of Natural History.

Spot the cherry laurel – citizen science with children

The Department of Ecology of MNHNL carried out a citizen science survey with children who are members of the Panda Club of the Luxembourg National Museum of Natural History (Schaltz 2017). See the post Spot the cherry laurel – A citizen science survey with children for more details.

Brief description

Cherry laurel in a forest near Steinsel. 11/03/2017, Manou Pfeiffenschneider.

Prunus laurocerasus L. is a shrub that thrives in woodland areas with moist, slightly acidic soils, both in well-lit and shaded conditions. Fruits are dispersed over long distances by birds. In recent years, seedlings have increasingly been observed in the wild.

So far, strong invasion by cherry laurel is not known in western Europe. Invasion histories are, however, numerous in southern and central Europe, where the plant rapidly expands by root-suckering, layering and stump-sprouting. It has a dense and permanent canopy that outcompetes native species, prevents forest regeneration and reduces biodiversity. Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration and global warming recently favoured plant installation in Atlantic conditions as well, where it is likely to become a new threat for native biodiversity. The plant is a potential vector of different Phytophtora pathogens. Leaves contain cyanogenic glucoside that are toxic for humans (Branquart et al. 2010).

Picture gallery

Prunus laurocerasus near the natural reserve Haard – Hesselsbierg – Staebierg, Dudelange. Photos by Tiago de Sousa (ANF), 15 March 2017.

Status and distribution in Luxembourg

Distribution map of Prunus laurocerasus L. in Luxembourg. Data source: Recorder-Lux, iNaturalist & GBIF, 2019-12-13.

Krombach (1875: 145) lists the species under its synonym Cerasus laurocerasus DC. as a cultivated evergreen shrub.

The oldest herbarium specimen at the MNHNL was collected in 1952 by Adolphe Molitor in Höhenhof near Luxembourg City (Specimen № MNHNL34303, MNHNL 2000-).

Since 2017, the plant was discovered in forest areas west of Steinsel, between Steinsel and Bridel, in Bereldange, close to the natural reserve Haard – Hesselsbierg – Staebierg next to Dudelange, near Cruchten (Krippel et al. 2018: 70). Since then, further locations have been found which suggest that the species is expanding into the wild (e.g. Findel, Remich). A similar behaviour can be observed in neighbouring Belgium (Henneresse 2014).

Currently, 75 records of the cherry laurel are accessible through the MNHNL-mdata portal (MNHNL, iNaturalist & GBIF 2019).

Nowadays in Luxembourg, cherry laurel is a common garden plant, mostly planted to build hedges.

Prunus laurocerasus planted on both sides of a bench along a forest road near Kopstal. Photo: C. Ries, 2019-03-21.

Cultivated evergreen Prunus species and cultivars

Two species of hardy, evergreen Prunus are grown for ornamental purposes in parks and gardens: P. laurocerasus L. (Syn.: Laurocerasus officinalis M.J. Roem.) [of which two varieties are mainly cultivated: P. laurocerasus var. caucasica (Kirchner) Jaeger and P. laurocerasus var. schipkaensis Späth ex H. Späth] and P. lusitanica L. [Syn. : Laurocerasus lusitanica (L.) M.J. Roem.] ; these two species are sometimes observed in a subspontaneous state, the first more and more often, the second very rarely (Lambinon & Verloove 2012: 365).

Risk assessment

ISEIA protocol: C1 (2+2+0+1) (Ries et al. 2013: 18).

Bibliography

  • Branquart, E., P. Dupriez, S. Vanderhoeven, W. Van Landuyt, F. Van Rossum & F. Verloove, 2010. Harmonia database: Prunus laurocerasus L. Harmonia version 1.2, Belgian Forum on Invasive Species. URL: http://ias.biodiversity.be [accessed on 2019-10-15]
  • Henneresse, T., 2014. Notes floristiques inédites sur la Lorraine belge et l’Ardenne méridionale (2009–2013). Adoxa 81: 29-40.
  • Krippel, Y., T. Helminger & G. Colling, 2018. Notes floristiques. Observations faites au Luxembourg (2016-2017). Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 120: 57-76. [PDF 265 KB]
  • Lambinon J. & F. Verloove, 2012. Nouvelle flore de la Belgique, du grand-duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines. Sixième édition. Avec la collaboration de L. Delvosalle, B. Toussaint, D. Geerinck, I. Hoste, F. Van Rossum, B. Cornier, R. Schumacker, A. Vanderpoorten et H. Vannerom. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise. CXXXIX + 1195 pp. ISBN : 9789072619884.
  • MNHNL, 2000-. Prunus laurocerasus L. in Recorder-Lux, database on the natural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Musée national d’histoire naturelle, Luxembourg. URL: https://mdata.mnhn.lu [Accessed 2019-10-15]
  • MNHNL, iNaturalist & GBIF, 2019. Prunus laurocerasus L. in MNHNL-mdata, online portal combining species observation from Recorder-Lux, iNaturalist and GBIF. National Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg. URL: https://mdata.mnhn.lu [Accessed 2019-10-15]
  • Ries, C., Y. Krippel, M. Pfeiffenschneider & S. Schneider, 2013. Environmental impact assessment and black, watch and alert list classification after the ISEIA Protocol of non-native vascular plant species in Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 114: 15-21. [PDF 652 KB]
  • Schaltz, Michèle, 2017. Fuerschung am ‘Natur Musée’: Ekologie. Panewippchen 4: 6-11. [PDF 2.2 MB]

 Page content last updated on 2019-11-20. Last proofread by Caroline Grounds on 2019-11-20.