Carolina Cherry Laurel, Prunus Caroliniana

Carolina Laurel Cherry is a small evergreen shrub to small tree that may easily grow to 35 feet tall. The fresh leaves of this plant have a maraschino cherry fragrance when crushed and glands on the lower surface of the leaves. This species is native to the southern United States. Full sun is preferred but it is tolerant of shade as long as the soil is moist and well-drained.

This plant is easy to transplant, can withstand heavy pruning, and is moderately salt tolerant. Established plants have good drought tolerance. Use as a hedge, as a foundation plant, and in small groups or mass planting. It can become weedy in disturbed areas on roadsides and along fencerows and will also put out root suckers and self-seed in the landscape.

It is a host plant for Coral Hairstreak, Red-spotted Purple, Spring/Summer Azures, and Viceroy butterflies. This is also a larval host plant to Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Adult butterflies source nectar from the spring flowers and bees source the pollen. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, raccoons, foxes, and small mammals. White-tailed deer browse foliage.

Photo by Howard Edward Prince CC BY 4.0

Photo by Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Photo by Bri Weldon CC BY 4.0

Sources:,, other authoritative resources and personal experience.