Prunus laurocerasus (almond laurel, royal laurel, milk laurel). A member
of the plant family ROSACEAE. Vigorous evergreen shrub or tree with glossy green
leaves and erect clusters of white flowers. Black, cherry-like fruits. Plant extensively
used in parks, amenity areas and in gardens as a hedging or ornamental plant.
Animals most affected
Cattle, sheep, horses, (zoo animals, dogs).
Ingestion of stems and leaves off the plant or of discarded hedge trimmings (herbivores).
Chewing and/or ingestion of leaves (dogs).
Contains a cyanogenetic heteroside: prulaurasoside. The plant is very toxic due to
the high content of HCN in the leaves: 1-2 g/kg, levels which are maximal in times
0.5-1 kg green leaves
Onset of signs often sudden, death in 1-2 minutes, preceded only by a few convulsions
or paddling movements.
If consumption is moderate or small
dyspnoea (respiratory distress);
falling to the ground;
paddling movements of the limbs, and convulsions;
death due to asphyxia may occur within several minutes.
If a minimal amount is ingested
recovery within several hours without sequelae.
severe congestion and cyanosis of the mucosae;
Often not feasible as the onset of symptoms is so rapid. The following may be attempted
but are of debatable efficacy:
iv sodium hyposulphite, 3 g/100 kg;
iv sodium nitrite (10% solution), 15 ml/ 100kg;
iv dicobalt edetate (Kelocyanor®), 20 - 25 mg/kg.
Stomach or ruminal contents:
to determine the amount of HCN; care must be taken as the compound is extremely
volatile: the sample must be very fresh or frozen immediately;
to confirm evidence of the plant involved (fragments of leaves and stems).