Horticulture: English Laurel Berries

Asked August 26, 2016, 10:39 PM EDT

I have some very old English laurel trees growing in my yard that produced a ton of fruit this year. I tasted one and it wasn't too bad. I have read differing information online about them, from them being totally poisonous, to just the leaves and pits being poisonous, to the berries being edible. I am a homesteader and aspiring farmer/business women and am looking to make the very most of every plant on my property. Can you tell me more about this berry and if it's really edible? I could send a sample if need be. Please respond, if only to point me in the right direction. I don't know who else to contact.

Lane County Oregon

1 Response

Thanks for your question on the English laurel berries. The Prunis laurocerasus (English or cherry laurel) is listed as a "1" (the most toxic) by the University of California "Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants" directory.

Another source indicates that "Cherry laurel, English laurel and mountain laurel are all grown as ornamental shrubs or trees for their attractive foliage and flowers. All parts of these plants are toxic, although mountain laurel has been used in herbal medicine as an external treatment for skin diseases. Both Carolina cherry laurel and English laurel contain cyanide, while mountain laurel contains grayanotoxin, also called andromedotoxin, and arbutin."

FYI: Several local governmental units (Portland, Tualatin, Eugene, and Evergreen, WA, classify this plant as being invasive.