Prunus laurocerasus. ENGLISH LAUREL. Eastern Europe, Asia Minor
ROSACEAE (Rose family)
Laurel leaves contain amygdalin, a compound of prussic acid (HCN) and glucose, which is also found in bitter almond kernels (see P. armeniaca) and, to a high degree, in cassava. The last English alchemist, Dr. James Price (1752-1783), demonstrated a catalyst for transmuting mercury into verifiable silver and gold, but a year later, under pressure to make more precious metal, he prepared a lethal potion by macerating laurel leaves and drank the fatal cup. Do not confuse this poisonous tree with the California 'laurel' (Umbellularia californica), leaf fragments of which can be used in cooking.
Other campus Prunus: Prunus armeniaca | Prunus caroliniana | Prunus cerasifera | Prunus ilicifolia | Prunus laurocerasus | Prunus lusitanica | Prunus lyonii | Prunus serrulata | Prunus subhirtella | Prunus × blireiana | Prunus × yedoensis
Illustrations (links open new windows): habit | leaves & fruitAdditions/Revisions: A shrub/groundcover form Prunus laurocerasus 'Zabeliana' has been occasionally planted, and has narrower shorter leaves than the species. It can be seen in the Math Courtyard and north side of Braun Music, and elsewhere.
Name derivation, genus | species Latin name for the plum tree | the common name, cherry laurelRelated material: Stanford Grounds Plant Information Sheet. List No. 14, p.2