A cherry laurel tree is a hardy evergreen that grows up to 40 feet tall. It has glossy, yellow-green to dark-green leaves and white flowers that appear in bunches on long stalks. Once the tree has flowered, it produces a blue-black fruit.
Growing in the United States from southern North Carolina to the eastern part of Texas, the cherry laurel tree is usually a shrub in its natural habitat. It is often found beneath power lines where resting birds excrete the seeds they have digested. Removal of lower limbs and suckers shapes the plant into a tree for landscaping purposes.
Cherry laurel trees prefer moist, well-drained soil. They are hardy trees that rarely need watering when they are mature. They are easily propagated from cuttings, root suckers or seeds.
Though often used in landscaping, the leaves and branches contain high amounts of hydrocyanic acid, the active chemical in cyanide. This makes the cherry laurel unsuitable for areas with grazing livestock. Caution should be used if planting the tree near children's play areas.
Cherry laurels are vulnerable to borers, mites and caterpillars. Fire blight, cankers, leaf spot and verticilium wilt are diseases that often attack the cherry laurel and damage the branches, flowers and leaves.