The Q&A Archives: Toxic??

Question: I have been told that the Otto Luyken English Laurel is highly toxic to people and to animals, is it? I must know because I do have a small child!

Answer: Prunus laurocerasus is in fact poisonous to people and animals. Here are several references about it.

The University of California at Davis rates this at toxicity level 1, meaning extremely toxic.

Maude Grieves in A Modern Herbal

According to the Cornell University Poisonous Plants Database, Prunus in general (includes for example Wild Cherries, Black Cherry, Bitter Cherry, Choke Cherry, Pin Cherry) are toxic to livestock, both foliage and fruit.

An additional reference from West Virginia University includes a more detailed description with regard to the cherrylaurel.

Unfortunately, there are many common plants and household substances that are potentially toxic, so we do need to be both vigilant and careful to teach children not to eat plants or other nonfood items. Since you have a small child in the house, I would strongly suggest that as a general precaution you keep the number for poison control handy by your telephone. That way you can get the information you need in an instant. I hope you never need to use it, though!

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