NATIVE RANGE: Southeast Europe, Turkey
POSSIBLE TO DETECT: year-round
FLOWERING SEASON: May
DESCRIPTION: A dense, evergreen, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree. The smooth bark with lenticels of young shoots is green, later turning brownish-grey. Leaves are alternate, simple, oblong to obovate-oblong with an obtuse or sharply-pointed apex. Leaf margins are slightly serrate to entire. Leaves are leathery, shiny, dark green above, paler below. Flowers are small, white, and borne in long, upright clusters. Fruits are clusters of shiny black drupes with a diameter of about 1 cm.
HABITAT: Mainly in forests with slightly acidic soil. In Serbia, where it is native, it grows in beech forests.
STATUS: Occurring naturally in southeastern Europe (see the circle on the map). Commonly cultivated and seedlings are increasingly found in forests.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica), has smaller ovate leaves with an acute apex and dentate margins. Flowers are borne in arching clusters. The bark of young shoots is red. Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) has leaves with entire, but wavy margins. Flowers are yellow-green, 1 cm across, borne paired in leaf axils. Leaves of Chinese privet (Ligustrum lucidum) are placed opposite and have entire leaf margins.