Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

In many gardens, the cherry laurel, botanically Prunus laurocerasus, is a popular, evergreen privacy screen. Among the hedge plants, the laurel cherry is one of the most popular species. However, most people do not know one thing: all parts of the cherry laurel plant are poisonous! In 2013, the laurel cherry was even named poisonous plant of the year.


Despite the high level of toxicity, dried bay leaves can be found in many kitchen cupboards. Although the leaves of the cherry laurel hedge are also dried and used as a spice, the classic spice is the normal laurel, which is only related.

Cherry laurel contains toxic substances

Why is the cherry laurel poisonous?

All parts of the laurel cherry contain glycosides, which are converted into hydrocyanic acid when eaten. This is the reason why the plant parts of Prunus laurocerasus taste extremely bitter. Children and mammals naturally spit out the plant parts immediately.


However, the toxicity of the fruit should not be underestimated, the taste of which is only slightly bitter. The fruits taste sweet and tart, which is pleasant for many people. Ten of the cores are enough to mean deadly danger for a child. Adults need at least 50 seed kernels before life is in danger.

signs of intoxication

What are the symptoms of eating cherry laurel?

Actually, the poisoning is not poisoning by the laurel cherry, but by the hydrocyanic acid formed. This is only formed in the stomach through interaction with gastric acid. Depending on the amount consumed, there are a variety of symptoms that can arise.

  • the face turns crimson and may swell
  • there is a painful scratching in the neck area
  • headaches may occur about 30 minutes after consumption
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • the pulse begins to race, dizziness develops to the point of unconsciousness

All of these symptoms do not always appear, the strength depends on the amount of plant consumed. If cherry laurel has been consumed, medical advice is always required, the poison control center can also provide help.

danger to animals

Caution: The plants are also poisonous for animals

Not only humans, but also livestock and pets are at risk when consuming cherry laurel parts. Whether cattle, cows, horses, pigs, cats or dogs, if parts of the plant are consumed, the following symptoms can occur.

  • excessive salivation and irritation of the oral mucosa
  • vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath to respiratory arrest
Cows in the pasture

It is imperative to see the veterinarian if your pet accidentally ingests the poisonous plant.

Poisoning case - human

How is poisoning treated?

If an emergency arises and a person has ingested too many cherries, quick action is required. For adults, consuming up to three berries is sufficient to drink large amounts of liquid. However, if a child has eaten from the plant, the emergency services must be alerted immediately.

Cherry laurel with berries

First aid measures

As a first aid measure, liquids are administered; in the case of unconsciousness, a stable side position is required. The amount of poison ingested may cause vomiting, but this should not be intentionally induced.

Medical care

In the hospital, medicinal charcoal is administered to bind the toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and remove them from the body. The toxins are disposed of through the human excretions; in rare cases, dialysis is necessary.

Poisoning case - animal

What to do if the pet has eaten cherry laurel?

If a pet has eaten from the cherry laurel hedge and shows symptoms of poisoning, medical advice is essential. It is important to visit a veterinary clinic outside of normal office hours, as the cardiovascular system can be affected.

Unlike humans, cherry laurel poisoning in animals is not usually mild. Depending on the amount consumed, the risk of death is high. The administration of medicinal charcoal is also often helpful for animals, but in many cases the stomach has to be emptied manually. In the event of poisoning, farm animals may no longer be processed into meat, since the hydrocyanic acid can still be toxic for the consumer.

dried bay leaves


Cherry laurels are a popular food at home

If the leaves of the laurel cherry are dried or boiled, the toxin is decomposed and harmless. In this country, bay leaves are often cooked as a spice in soups and stews, in southern countries such as Turkey the fruits are also known as a delicacy.

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!