The Q&A Archives: Carolina Cherry Tree - Poisonous?

Question: I understand that Carolina Cherry trees are poisonous, are they dangerous to horses? I would like to plant some as a screen, but there are horses on the other side of the fence.

Answer: Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana laurocerasus) is reported to be toxic if any plant parts are consumed

The toxic principle is hydrocyanic acid (also called prussic acid) which is created by enzymic action on the glucoside, amygdalin. It is present primarily in the leaves of trees that have fallen and are in a wilted condition. The bark and twigs are also toxic. Poisoning may occur in the spring, summer or fall.

Ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) are most often affected, but single stomach animals, such as the horse, can also be affected.

To be on the safe side, choose a non-poisonous hedging plant such as Escallonia, Leptospermum (tea tree), or Viburnum for your property line hedge.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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