Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica)

Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

Prunus lusitanica, commonly known as Portuguese laurel, is an evergreen tree that grows in the Mediterranean region. It is a species of flowering plant that is a member of the Rosaceae family of plants. Its natural habitats include the southwestern regions of France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a height of 3 to 8 metres (Can grow up to 15-20 m in cultivation).

Unlike most other trees, the bark of Prunus lusitanica is smooth and dark grey. The leaves are alternate, oval-shaped, 7-15 cm long, and 3-5 cm wide.

Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) leaves
Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) leaves. The leaves are alternate, oval-shaped, 7-15 cm long, and 3-5 cm wide.

The flowers are small and white. The leaves have an acute apex and a dentate margin; glossy dark green above and lighter green below. They look remarkably similar in appearance to that of the bay laurel. The flowers are small and white, and they appear on long spikes in the late spring and early summer. They have a lovely fragrance and are followed by dark purple berries, which will attract birds and bees to your yard and garden.

Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) berries
Close-up beautiful branch with black berries of Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) with evergreen leaves.

Bees and butterflies are attracted to their flowers, and a diverse range of birds eat the berries that they produce.

Despite its appearance, Portuguese laurel requires little maintenance. During the late summer months, a gentle trim is required to remove broken and overgrown branches. These characteristics make the  Prunus lusitanica a great plant for commercial landscaping.

 

 

Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica)
Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) at Trinity St Kilda

 

Prunus lusitanica grows well in any soil as long as it does not waterlogged. It also grows in shadow chalky soil. It requires full sun to partial shade. It doesn’t like extreme cold.

 

Portuguese Laurel Hedges

The Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) is a beautiful, dense evergreen that can make an excellent hedge. It can be considered both a tree and a hedge in some cases.

Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) Hedge
Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) Hedge

If you’re looking for a dense hedge that’s also easy to maintain, a gorgeous Portuguese laurel dense hedge is a great choice. Because of its adaptability, it thrives in arid climates and sandier or clay-heavy soil types. The pencil-like spikes of creamy white flowers in early summer and burgundy coloured leaf stalks make it ideal for hedging. Portuguese laurel hedge is very dense, due to which it is good for screening and privacy.

Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica) Hedge
A neatly trimmed garden hedge of Portuguese Laurel tree (Prunus lusitanica)

 

Growth rate of Prunus lusitanica

Depending on the variety and location, Prunus lusitanica grows at a moderate to a rapid rate. It can grow between 40 and 60 cm per year on average. In hedges, the ideal height for a Portuguese laurel is up to 5 m, although it can reach much greater heights. This means that the tree will not grow quickly but will mature into a nice hedge in a reasonable amount of time.

Evergreen leaves of Prunus lusitanica
Evergreen leaves of Prunus lusitanica (Portugal laurel) with black berries in park of Massandra Palace, Crimea

 

Problems with Portuguese laurels

Portuguese laurel is more resistant to insect and pest attacks than other species of Prunus. Portuguese laurel is choosy when it comes to soil moisture, and the majority of the problems that this plant can face are caused by insufficient watering. If you check the plant regularly and water sufficiently, there should be no problem, especially during summer and high temperatures. The browning and drooping leaves however, may indicate that the plant is too dry. The best solution is deep watering with a drip irrigation system.

Prunus lusitanica suffers from overwatering, and in waterlogging conditions, this plant does not thrive. The root system of the Portuguese laurel will suffer if it is planted in heavy soil or soil with poor drainage.

There are few pests and diseases that it gets during the humid months. It can get a little bit of shot hole, which is just a localised fungal spotting on the leaf, and as the leaf or the plant system deals with that fungus, a little tiny hole appears, which will correct itself but if it’s worse than you can spray it.

Landscaping with Prunus lusitanica

As mentioned, it is an evergreen, ornamental and low maintenance tree that is also used to make an excellent hedge. Prunus Lusitania can be planted for the flowering tree, a hedge for the border, and a privacy screen. Due to these qualities, this tree is well recommended for your garden and landscaping.

Evergreen leaves of Prunus lusitanica
Evergreen leaves of Prunus lusitanica in commercial landscaping

 

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Further Reading on Portuguese Laurel

Growing Hedges

   

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Hello, I’m Callum. A little bit about me? My passion ever since I was young is for the environment and the outdoor world we live in. Something we neglect in our concrete jungles and glass palaces. It’s this passion that’s been infused into every fibre of my company’s processes.

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