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Prunus laurocerasus - Cherry laurel

Synonym: Lauroceraus officinalis
French name:  Laurier cerise
Dutch name: Kerslaurier
Family: Rosaceae
Group: Vascular plants
Origin: Asia
Habitat: terrestrial
Introduction:  agri- and horticulture
ISEIA Score : 9
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1994
Invasion stage: naturalization
Spatial distribution: isolated
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: high
Natural habitats: likely
More on invasiveness: Cherry laurel thrives in woodland areas with moist slightly acidic soils, both in well-lit and shaded conditions. Fruits are dispersed over long distances by birds. Since recent years, seedlings are increasingly observed in the wild in Belgium.
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)
Endangered areas
low risk
medium risk
high risk

Endangered Natura 2000 habitats ():
forest habitats: 91209130
Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: low
Competition: likely
Disease transmission: likely
Genetic effects: low
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: unknown
Physical alteration: likely
Natural successions: likely
Food web alteration: low
More on impacts: Strong invasion by cherry laurel is not known so far 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 outcompete native species, prevent forest regeneration and reduce 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 human.
Data Source & References
Authors: Branquart Etienne, Dupriez Pascal, Vanderhoeven Sonia, Van Landuyt Wouter, Van Rossum Fabienne, Verloove Filip
Published on:  04 December 2007
Last update:  22 December 2010
Berger, S., Söhlke, G., Walther, G.R.& Pott, R. (2007)
Bioclimatic limits and range shifts of cold-hardy evergreen broad-leaved species at their northern distributional limit in Europe.
Phytocoenologia 37: 523-539.
CPS-SKEW (2006)
Prunus laurocerasus.
From online fact sheets of the Swiss Commission for Wild Plants Conservation.
Day, J., Nigel, S. & Robertson, P. (2003)
The scrub management handbook: guidance on the management of scrub on nature conservation sites.
Forum on the application of conservation techniques, English Nature & RSPB.
Hättenschwiler, S. & Körner, C. (2003)
Does elevated CO2 facilitate naturalization of the non-indigenous Prunus laurocerasus in Swiss temperate forests?
Functional Ecology 17: 778–785.
Keil, P. & Loos G.H. (2005)
Preliminary account of ergasiophygophytic and xenophytic trees, shrubs and subshrubs in the Central Ruhrgebiet (Germany).
Electronic Publications of the Biological Station of Western Ruhrgebiet 3: 1-12.
Lambinon, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004)
Nouvelle fore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines.
Editions du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise.
Sukopp, H. & Wurzel, A. (2003)
The effects of climate change on the vegetation of central European cities.
Urban Habitats 1(1): 66-86.
Verloove, F. (2006)
Catalogue of the Neophytes in Belgium (1800-2005).
Scripta Botanica Belgica 39, 89 pp.
Walther, G.-R (2004)
Plants in a warmer world.
Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 6/3: 169–185.
Walther, G.-R. (2002)
Weakening of climatic constraints with global warming and its consequences for evergreen broad-leaved species.
Folia Geobotanica 37: 129-139.
Walther, G.R. (2000)
Climatic forcing and the dispersal of exotic species.
Phytocoenologia 30(3-4): 409-430.
Wittenberg, R. (2005)
An inventory of alien species and their threat to biodiversity and economy in Switzerland.
CABI Bioscience Switzerland Centre report to the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape. The environment in practice no. 0629: 155p.

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