Invasive species: it is better not to plant cherry laurel

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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It grows quickly and densely, is not very demanding on the site, tolerates frost well and keeps its leaves even in winter. All this makes the laurel a very popular hedge plant.

In the trade it is usually called cherry laurel, although it is related to the cherry and not to the laurel. This shrub is native to Anatolia and southeastern Europe. But now it is also spreading through our forests and displacing the native undergrowth. This is proven by a study by the University of Bonn and the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart (Naturalization of Prunus laurocerasus in a forest in Germany).

Spread increase for 20 years

The researchers examined 24 areas of 3,000 square meters in Kottenforst, southwest of Bonn. They found what they were looking for in 19 of these subareas. There are as many as 63 laurel cherries there.

The largest specimens are over 30 years old and cover up to 50 square meters of forest area. However, most of the plants are less than 20 years old and are located in the first 50 meters of the forest edge – especially where cherry laurel also grows in the adjacent gardens. According to experts, milder winters encourage the spread.

On the banned list in Switzerland

Where laurel grows, other plants hardly stand a chance. The evergreen shrubs shade the forest floor too much. Because all its parts are poisonous and the flowers produce little nectar, laurel is virtually useless to local wildlife. It also alters the soil chemistry and thus harms soil organisms.

In Switzerland, the sale of hedges will be banned from September 2024. In Belgium, it is on a corresponding watch list. Our partners at the Swiss consumer magazine K-Tipp recommend it as Alternative to cherry laurel the similar-looking European holly.

Tip: Our guide shows you how to create an easy-care garden that grows, thrives and flourishes with little effort and clever tricks. Gardening next door.

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