Portuguese Laurel

This prunus lusitanica, better known as Portuguese laurel, I found growing in the grounds of Gawthorpe Hall. It is a pleasant flower with interesting little blooms, but the Plants for a Future website reveals a disturbing fact:

It belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide…This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten…it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

The quantities of cyanide found in the plant are likely to do little harm to a hungry human, but it is still one of the worst poisons to ingest. Nice flowers, but worth keeping away from your dinner plate. A nice appearance does not grant good health.

With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,

With her flattering lips she seduced him.

Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,

Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,

Till an arrow struck his liver.

As a bird hastens to the snare,

He did not know it would cost his life.

Proverbs 7:21-23, NKJV