The cherry laurel is in the rose family, just like the black cherry. The wood is bright red and sweetly aromatic. The leaves are glossy, making this tree a popular choice for many homeowners as a hedge or screen tree. It's very beautiful when it blooms.
The cherry laurel is considered by many to be an invasive tree. It grows everywhere. Why? Because it produces a plump purple berry that birds love, especially robins. The birds gorge themselves, then poop out the intact seeds, thus spreading the species quite handily.
(From Peter Jenkins:)
"The leaves explode. My Mom and Dad were both interested in botany, and knew some tricks to keep their children busy. I was the best fire builder in the family, and we had many fires in the fireplace as a result. Mom would go out and get a cupful of these 'special leaves' and hand me one leaf at a time. I would poke it in to the red hot coals. Suddenly it would sound like a string of Black Cat firecrackers as the leaf exploded. The oils would suddenly ignite with a loud bang and I would jump for joy. After things died down, Mom would hand me another. I never got tired of the sport. As I reflect back, what made it so special was the timing — always one leaf at a time. Never did I get a cupful."
Tree: Patty Jenkins, TreeInspection.com
Leaf: Carl Dennis, Auburn University, Bugwood.org
Flowers: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org