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Prunus caroliniana 'Compacta'

Compact Carolina Cherry Laurel
  • Plant Type:
  • Shrub, Tree
  • Evergreen-Deciduous:
  • Evergreen
  • Overall Mature Size:
  • Large
  • Also Grown As:
  • Bush, Column, Large Shrub/Small Tree, Standard Tree
  • Mature Height & Spread :
  • 8-10' x 6-8'
  • Natural Growth Habit:
  • Conical
  • Native To:
  • Texas, USA
  • Exposure:
  • Full Sun, Partial Shade
  • Water:
  • Medium Water, Low Water
  • Flower Color:
  • White
  • Bloom Time:
  • Spring, Winter
  • Special Features:
  • Attracts Birds/Butterflies, Deer Resistant, Desert Conditions, Drought Resistant, Screen, Seacoast Conditions
  • Container Sizes:
  • #5, #15, 24" Box, 36" Box
  • Sunset Garden Zones:
  • 5-24
  • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone:
  • 7


An evergreen tree or shrub native to – you guessed it – North Carolina, Prunus caroliniana “Compacta” makes an outstanding addition to the landscape when a small tree is desired. Growing to approximately 8-10 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide, they are best in Western Garden zones 5-24 and are particularly successful in coastal climates but tolerate desert heat, especially if a bit of shade makes itself available. They are extremely popular in Texas where heat, wind, and drought can test less tolerant species. Prunus Carolina “Compacta” are drought tolerant once established but regular watering during the early years yields faster growing plants. Lustrous bright green leaves have wavy edges and are 2-4 inches long. On this dwarf variety, the branches are more closely spaced than on the species. In spring, small fragrant white flowers borne in racemes appear. Black berries finalize the annual cycle. All parts of the Carolina Cherry are quite poisonous, making these reliably deer resistant but beware planting them where livestock or pets graze. Conversely, it is the perfect host for birds, bees, and butterflies. The leaves smell like cherries when crushed hence the common name. Prunus caroliniana is fire defensible and is a beautiful choice for those seeking a small and relatively care-free tree.