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Laurel hedging

What is the difference between laurel and bay?  We saw a hedge near here, growing extremely well, we thought it was bay, but have been told that it may be laurel.  What is the difference - this hedge has grown quite quickly.  Is it poisonous , expensive, quick growing and deciduous or evergreen? Does it flower or attract wildlife? If anyone has this growing, can you provide a picture please?


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699

    It's very confusing and it's due to the word laurel. Bay is Laurus Nobilis, has dark slightly wavy edged leaves. Spring yellowish flowers and small dark almost black berries/fruit. This plant is the one used for cooking and the term 'bay leaves' used. More tender when young, but can also be grown as a hedge too. Prefers free draining soil in sun.

    The other 'laurel' is Prunus Laurocerasus, the Cherry Laurel. More emerald green and leaves are quite large, thick, glossy and slightly rounded. Has small white flowers in spring to summer, followed by red berries turning black as it ages. Can be quite a fast grower and this is probably the hedging plant you see often. Quite tolerant of many soils and and postition. Not edible and poisonus.

    The other 'laurel' is Prunus Lusitanica, the Portugal Laurel. The leaves are more narrow and darker green. Very glossy and more pointed in shape. Also has small white flowers in late spring into summer, followed by small dark purple fruit/berries. A popular hedging plant, once established can start growing fast. Not too fussy on soils but need free draining to begin with. Not edible and posionus. No picture, but you could google for images.

    They are all evergreen shrubs. Hedges will always attract nesting wildlife. I haven't checked the pricing but suspect the Bay shrub will be an expensive option.

    Last edited: 22 September 2017 17:59:22

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,156

    Prunus lusitanicus resembles Laurus nobilis insome ways. 

    P. laurocerasus and L. nobilis couldn't  be confused

    There are very good reasons to use the proper name for a plant

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Thank you both for all the information, they all seem to be suitable for what we want - whether we can get them over here - well that is another matter.  However I like the sound of them all, so surely one should be available?

    It was suggested that we try a Hawthorn and blackthorn hedge which I would quite like but OH says he doesn't want a prickly hedge (it is he who has to do the annual trimming so I will have to give him that one). I will let you know which we are able to get.

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,061

    GD 2

    Scroll down for an interesting read ; shouldn't want to put that in a stew !image

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,156

    Prunus lauocerasus is a monster GD. The others get huge but don't seem so OTT

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • EEEEK Paul, that reminds me of the thorn of laurel crown from our history lesson, a warning there for us. I don't plan on using it for decoration, but I do wonder about the cows that may lean over the wall to have a nibble.......

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,061

    GD 2

    The Poison Garden website is a mine of information ; click on the A-Z of plant names for some interesting and intriguing plant folklore etc. image

    I love it !!

  • A real eye opener isn't it.  We have at least three quarters of these plants in our garden - and it was a doctor with young children who planted some of them too.  Thankfully, no casualties with our children or pets.

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