Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Laurel, the popular name for a variety of evergreen shrubs. The Alexandrian laurel is Ruscus racemosus; the Bay laurel, Poet's laurel or Roman laurel, Laurus nobilis; the Japan or spotted laurel, Aucuba japonica; and the Portugal laurel, Cerasus lusitanica; but now the name is most commonly applied in England to the cherry laurel, Cerasus laurocerasus. This shrub, introduced from the Levant in the 16th century, agrees with .the cherry (q.v.) and differs from the plum (q.v.) in having its leaves conduplicate, or folded in the buddown the midrib, and in having a polished frnit without bloom. The leaves are elliptic-lanceolate, and of a bright, shining green; the small white flowers are in terminal racemes; and the drupes- are black with smooth stones. The leaves, bark, and kernels yield a volatile oil containing cyanogen, in which some prussic acid is generally formed. This renders the use of the leaves in flavouring custardsy as a. substitute for bay-leaves, -most dangerous. The leaves, when crushed, are used by entomologists to poison butterflies and moths.