The Cherry Laurel was introduced to this country in 1576 from south east Europe. The laurel hedge is a common sight in ornamental gardens across the country. Laurels grow on most soils but do not do well on chalk.
Laurel was planted as game cover around hunting lodges and deer parks because of its shade tolerance. lt was also used as a dark green backdrop for headstones in many Victorian cemeteries.
The leaves contain prussic acid and cyanide, and smell of bitter almonds.
Laurel leaves are traditional signs of sorrow or grief and used in wreaths to be carried with coffins. However for Hindus in Britain it is a sign of joy at the celebration of a wedding!