Cherry laurel and a deathly potion…

Earlier in the year, with funding from the Dulwich Society and Dulwich Park Friends, London Wildlife Trust removed seventeen non-native and invasive cherry laurels from behind the old tennis courts (near to the boundary with Frank Dixon Close). The leaves and fruit pips of the species contain cyanolipids that are capable of releasing cyanide and benzaldehyde, which apparently has a characteristic almond smell associated with cyanide.

Given these toxic characteristics, not surprisingly little grows near or beneath cherry laurel – and the specimens in the park had matured to a density that also impeded natural light.

Volunteers have now planted a wildlife hedge along the strip with free whips from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and this will form part of the wildlife corridor around the perimeter of the park.

Perhaps the best known case of murder by cherry-laurel water was that of John Donellan who murdered his brother-in-law, Sir Theodosius Boughton, on 30th August 1780. Read more here at The Poison Garden website.