Azores laurel cherry (Prunus lusitanica azorica)

Azores laurel cherry flowers
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Azores laurel cherry fact file

Azores laurel cherry description

GenusPrunus (1)

This subspecies of Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica) is a hardy evergreen tree with larger, thicker leaves than the other subspecies, but with the same beautiful clusters of white scented flowers when in bloom. The leaves are reddish when young, but turn dark green when mature, while the stalks remain red (4).

Height: up to 4 m (2)

Azores laurel cherry biology

Whereas the common name used for the species, Portugal laurel, incorrectly implies that it is a variety of laurel (Lauraceae), the name given to the subspecies, Azores laurel cherry, paints a more accurate picture, recognising that it is in fact a type of cherry. Unlike other cherries, however, this plant is evergreen, resembling laurels. Further more, Portugal laurels do not bloom until after new leaves form in spring, whereas most cherries bloom before leafing (5). This tree’s stunning white flowers blossom in June, have both male and female organs, and are pollinated by insects (3) (6). The flowers give way to green cherries that eventually ripen to a shiny black colour in autumn (5).


Azores laurel cherry range

The tree is found on the islands of Sâo Miguel, Terceira, Sâo Jorge and Pico off Portugal (Azores) (1).


Azores laurel cherry habitat

Inhabits deep, narrow ravines and undisturbed laurel-juniper forests (1).


Azores laurel cherry status

Classified as Endangered (EN B1 + 2ce) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1), listed on Annex II of the European Habitats Directive and on Appendix 1 of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (3).


Azores laurel cherry threats

The major threats to this subspecies are the clearance of trees for agriculture and plantations, and the competition and predation pressure posed by introduced animals and plants (1).


Azores laurel cherry conservation

No conservation initiatives are currently in place for this subspecies.


Find out more

For further information on the Azores laurel cherry see:



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A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2004)
  2. Huxley, A. (1997) The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan Reference Limited, London.
  3. Council of Europe (December, 2004)
  4. Pan-Global Plants (December, 2004)
  5. Portugal laurel (November, 2005)
  6. Plants For A Future (November, 2005)

Image credit

Azores laurel cherry flowers  
Azores laurel cherry flowers

© Hanno Schäfer

Hanno Schäfer


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