Thursday, 26 April 2018


The true laurel is Laurus nobilis. It is reasonably hardy and our plant, despite being a Mediterranean species, is looking quite well following a harder than usual winter. It gives its name to the Lauraceae,  a family which includes the avocado, cinnamon and the camphor tree. Laurel is not grown for its flowers!

The less-than-inspiring flowers of Laurus nobilis.

 The Spotted Laurel, Aucuba japonica, is quite unrelatedbeing a member of the Garryaceae.As a rule the wild Aucuba has unspotted leaves but this 'immaculate' form is rarely, if ever, seen in gardens.

Spotted Laurel, Aucuba japonica, in a Daventry garden. 17 April, 2018

It has curious four-petalled flowers of a chocolate colouring, often overlooked among the bright foliage and looking utterly different from the silky tassels of its relative, Garrya elliptica.
The flowers of Spotted Laurel are easily overlooked.
As for the Cherry Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus, that is quite different again, belonging to the Rose Family, and thus related to apples, pears, cherries, raspberries and so on. Its thick, rather glossy leaves, are familiar to everyone and its flowers, for a couple of weeks or so, brighten up what is rather a sombre shrub, attracting a number of flies. The fruit is much like a cherry but should be avoided, containing as it does quite high levels of prussic acid.

The flowers of Cherry Laurel briefly brighten this gloomy shrub.
Christchurch Drive, Daventry. 26 April, 2018
I ought also to mention the Spurge Laurel, Daphne laureola, but I have mentioned it in several earlier blogs and so I'll give it a rest. But it does remind us that the word 'Laurel' has little real meaning in the world of botany but is applied all-too-frequently to any leathery-leaved shrub.

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