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Identify this plant please as baby keeps trying to eat berries!!

Hi all, registered just to get your expertise as i'm having issues searching myself with limited knowledge. Our neighbours have a large shrub that overhangs our garden and drops berries. Not an issue except that my 18 month old is very interested in them and tries to eat them. It looks to me like a cherry laurel which i know can be poisonous so hoping i can get confirmation on the ID please and also if so, HOW poisonous? should i be concerned if he has eaten one?

Plant is about 6m tall, waxy oval leaves, berries start green then red to black and the size of a small olive.



  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    It looks like some form of laurel but not totally sure. Cherry laurel berries you can make jam with.
    Either way you are fully entitled to remove any over hanging branches.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    I agree it is Cherry Laurel. But I’m afraid I have never heard about making Jam! Please do not let your child handle the leaves or berries. They are toxic. 
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,304
    I'd be careful with the berries if it is laurel - some info here

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507

    The Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica) is a highly attractive small, evergreen tree. In spring the branches are heavy with creamy-white flowers, followed by clusters of small, plumlike black berries.

    It is these that, if consumed, can cause a serious illness.

    This tree is often mistaken for the popular cherry laurel (P. laurocerasus) which produces non-toxic, almond-flavoured berries used to make the tasty cherry laurel jam.

    Only the inedible hard kernels contain poisons.

  • So which laurel is it? And how would i tell the difference between the one with poisonous fruit and the one you make jam from? If it is an edible fruited laurel with poisonous kernels will these be poisonous if eaten whole? i don't think my toddler will pit them?!
  • Also aren't the laurel berries 'almond scented' because of the cyanide with is the poisonous component? very confused. Found info online that says ALL parts of laurel other then bay laurel are poisonous if ingested. Who are these brave souls eating laurel jam?
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Then err on the side of caution just treat it as poisonous, have a word with your neighbour about your worries  and cut it back to your fence line.  Check the area for dropped berries before you let your baby go there or fence the area off for now until he gets past the everthing in mouth stage.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Europabug, stick to the RHS site.

    Ignore the Genus section as it does not apply for this particular shrub, and check the characteristics section. It states clearly - leaves & fruit can be harmful if injested.

  • glasgowdanglasgowdan Posts: 632
    He'll grow out of it, keep an eye on him in the garden, just usual parenting stuff
  • HelixHelix Posts: 631
    edited August 2019
    When I was young and ignorant I used to kill insects by putting then in a jar with young laurel leaves....put a lid on it, and after a bit you can smell the cyanide.

    (I don’t kill insects now, and I didn’t grow up to be a psychopath either...)
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