Rosaceae (Rose family) Prunus

Prunus caroliniana Carolina cherry laurel

North Carolina to Texas
Prunus caroliniana in flower, Kingscote Gardens. Sairus Patel, 15 Apr 2021
Prunus caroliniana, Norcliffe Hall. Sairus Patel, 5 Jun 2023

Carolina cherry laurel is found as a tall hedge on the west side of Tresidder Union opposite the Faculty Club and in campus residential areas. A compact selection that goes by the rather cheeky trade name Bright ’N Tight may be seen against the back of the house at Kingscote Gardens.

The leaves are are 2 to 4 inches long, glossy above and pale below, with a tendency to be revolute or undulate. Spikes comprising a dozen or more small white flowers cluster in the leaf axils (March–April). Shiny black fruit about ⅜ inch long are almost filled by a slightly pointed nut which nevertheless contains enough meat to be attractive to birds. Older neglected trees have a certain leaning or battered look; two such frame the stairs at the end of the walkway on the east side of Norcliffe Hall (map pin). On their right stand old-fashioned shrubs Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) and sweet viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum).

Prunus caroliniana leaves, flowers, fruit. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Edits, added Bright ’N Tight location, Norcliffe location, removed south side of Ginzton Laboratory at Via Palou Mall location (Jan 2024, SP).