The berries of the laurel cherry: decorative but unfortunately poisonous

The berries of the laurel cherry: decorative but unfortunately poisonous

Sweet fruits with a very poisonous core

The Latin name of the cherry laurel Prunus indicates the close relationship between the ornamental wood and our native plums and cherries. In fact, the glossy black fruits of cherry laurel, about an inch in size, resemble these popular fruits.

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The flesh of the laurel cherry tastes pleasantly juicy and sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste. In it the concentration of the toxins contained in all parts of the plant is lowest. The scent and aroma of the fruit is reminiscent of bitter almonds, which also contain traces of hydrogen cyanide and should therefore not be consumed by children.

Hazardous ingredient in the kernels

The seeds contained in the berries are highly toxic for children, adults and animals. If the seed is bitten into when the fruit is consumed, the hydrogen cyanide is released and it can lead to nausea, vomiting, dizziness and stomach pain. Since children are much more sensitive to the toxin, even eating less fruit threatens to stop breathing and lose consciousness.

Jelly and jam made from the poisonous fruit?

In its Turkish homeland, the fruit of cherry laurel is a delicacy and the berries are available in stores both dried and processed into jelly or jam. This is possible because the pulp of the cherry laurel is only slightly toxic and the toxins are partially destroyed by the drying and cooking process. Nevertheless, you should leave the preparation of jellies from the fruits of the cherry laurel to the professionals. When passing through the berries, the kernels could break, the toxins could pass into the fruit pulp and make it inedible.

Cut off decorative berries better

In households with small children, as well as on sidewalks, it is therefore advisable to prune the cherry laurel immediately after flowering. This way, the bees can feast on the nectar of the flowers, but there is no risk of children unintentionally nibbling on the berries.

If you do not want to do without the pretty berry decorations completely, you should remove everything that has withered at least in the lower area. This cut also has advantages for the plant, which thrives more vigorously as a result. Flowers and fruits have to be nourished and their formation requires a lot of nutrients.

Tips & Tricks

With a little patience, you can grow new cherry laurel bushes from the seeds contained in the fruits. Often, the seeds propagate all by themselves, so that in spring you can dig up the sprouted young plants in the vicinity of an existing cherry laurel and move them to the desired location.