Cherry laurel: caution poisonous!


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Cherry laurel is popular as a privacy-giving hedge plant. But is cherry laurel poisonous to humans, dogs and cats?

Cherry laurel leaves
Healthy cherry laurel plants are strong and shiny [Photo: mizy/]

Cherry laurels (Prunus laurocerasus) are popular hedge plants, especially because of their rapid growth. The evergreen plants flower from April to May, from which spherical, shiny black fruits are formed. However, the fruits that grow as grapes in August and September harbour unexpected dangers. Toxins lurk inside them that are poisonous to humans and animals.

What parts of the cherry laurel are poisonous?

In fact, all parts of the plant of cherry laurel are poisonous. However, especially beware of eating the leaves and seeds. The concentration of cyanogenic glycosides is particularly high here. If you chew the leaves properly, prussic acid is released in the stomach. Mostly, however, it does not come to that with the leaves. They are bitter and are therefore usually spat out again quickly. The fruits, on the other hand, have a sweet aroma and are bitter only in the aftermath.

Blooming cherry laurel
Cherry laurel seeds and leaves are especially poisonous and should not be eaten [Photo: Carmen Hauser/]

Note: dried or cooked, cherry laurel is edible and harmless due to the decomposition of toxins. It is even considered a delicacy in Turkey.

Cherry laurel: poisonous and life-threatening for children

The critical dose if leaves are eaten is not known. If the fruits are eaten, symptoms of poisoning are not to be expected when eating up to three pieces. But keep in mind that when a substance starts to because symptoms of poisoning depends on the ingested dose per kilogram of body weight. Consumption is therefore very dangerous, especially for children, and can even lead to death. Coupled with childlike curiosity, the potential danger of this popular hedge plant is extraordinarily high. After all, it was not without reason that cherry laurel was crowned poisonous plant of the year in 2013. As little as ten chewed fruits can because death in children. For adults, on the other hand, it takes closer to 50.

Cherry laurel poisoning: symptoms and signs

After eating too much cherry laurel, typical symptoms of prussic acid poisoning occur. Watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Reddening of the face
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased respiration
  • Unconsciousness
  • Unpleasant scratching in the throat
  • Palpitations

Cherry laurel poisoning: what to do?

Take yourself or your child to the doctor immediately at the onset of any of these symptoms. Although drinking plenty of water is actually sufficient if less than three fruits are eaten, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the well-being of your little one. The doctor will administer charcoal to bind the toxins in the stomach; in an emergency, detoxification may even be necessary.

Cherry laurel berries
Cherry laurel berries are only safe to eat once they have been cooked or dried [Photo: daphnusia/]

Cherry laurel: toxic to cats, dogs and other animals

Prussic acid is not only poisonous for us humans. Consumption of cherry laurel is also toxic in horses, cattle, cows, pigs, dogs, cats and small animals. Typical symptoms of poisoning are:

  • Salivation
  • Mucosal irritation
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
  • Breathing problems to respiratory paralysis

Take your pet to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect poisoning. After all, your four-legged friend also deserves professional treatment so that they soon feel better again.

Although cherry laurel is poisonous, it has some advantages and is a popular plant in gardens. In this article you will find more information about cherry laurel and can learn what should be considered when planting and caring for it.

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