Portugal Laurel, Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica and its varieties)

Prunus lusitanica spp.

Prunus lusitanica is a bushy, evergreen shrub or tree with a dark green leaf.  The leaf size is much smaller than that of Prunus laurocerasus with leaves being 8-10cm (4 inches) long.  Portugal Laurel has reddish new shoots (stems) that look attractive against the dark green leaves.  If left untrimmed, it produces masses of small fragrant white flowers in early summer followed by small red to dark purple fruits.  Portugal Laurel makes an excellent hedging plant although the variety 'Myrtifolia' is becoming more popular.

All varieties of Prunus lusitanica will grown on any free-draining soil (i.e. not waterlogged) even shallow chalky soils where it can be planted where Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel) cannot.

All varieties of Prunus lusitanica will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Ultimate height: Prunus lusitanica grows to approximately 7m (20ft) tall as a hedge but in good conditions and if it is grown as a single stem tree, it has been known to grow to over 10m (30ft).

Prunus lusitanica is very hardy and will survive temperatures of -25oC.

Prunus lusitanica 'Myrtifolia' (also known as Prunus lusitanica 'Angustifolia' or 'Pyramidalis')

Prunus lusitanica 'Myrtifolia' has a smaller, darker leaf than the species, Prunus lusitanica, with redder stems.  It also has a neater, tidier more elegant growth habit.  Myrtifolia is sometimes called Angustifolia or Pyramidalis and is excellent for hedging or topiary. It smaller leaves give it a similar appearance to Bay Laurel but it is much hardier withstanding temperatures of -23oC. Commercially, it is now more widely grown than the ordinary Portugal Laurel as it is more popular as a hedging plant.

Ultimate height 5m (15ft) tall if left untrimmed.

Prunus lusitanica 'Variegata'

Prunus lusitanica 'Variegata' has dark green leaves with a narrow white margin around the edge of the leaf. Slightly slower growing than the other varieties of Prunus lusitanica and more difficult to find commercially available especially in larger sizes.

Ultimate height if left untrimmed 5m (15ft).

Prunus lusitanica subsp. azorica

Azorica is a shrubby variety with a broader, thicker leaf that is about 10cm long.

It is more difficult to find than the other varieties of Portugal Laurel as it is less widely grown commercially.

Very hardy withstanding temperatures of -23oC.

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