Prunus lusitanica, the Portuguese Laurel, is native to the southwest Mediterranean. An attractive evergreen tree with a very pleasing dark green foliage and contrasting reddish-purple stems, it forms a large shrub or medium to large-sized tree that is an excellent addition to the exotic garden. Its handsome glossy foliage has a bluish sheen and creates a dense vegetative mass that can form an ideal informal windbreak providing protection and shelter to smaller and less-hardy plants. It is often sold as a hedge plant and in larger gardens can be used to form the boundaries of garden rooms. My favourite use of Portuguese laurel however, is as a single specimen tree where it can show off its foliage and racemes of delicate white flowers to greatest effect and at the same time provide localised protection to more tender exotics. Its leaves superficially resemble Arbutus unedo or - to a lesser extent - Laurus nobilis and provide endless possibilities for imaginative combinations with other more showy plants that can bring its Mediterranean qualities to life. Pruning the side shoots and thinning it to one rising leader to grow it tall is another creative way to bring out the best of this wonderful hardy evergreen.
These plants are a great bargain.
|Synonyms||Cerasus lusitanica, Laurocerasus lusitanica, Padus lusitanica|
|Geographical Origin||Southwest Mediterranean including Southern France, Portugal and Spain.|
|Cultivation||Sun or partial shade. Tolerant of most soil types but likes good drainage.|
|Eventual Height||10-15 m|
|Eventual Spread||3-6 m|
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