Laurel leaves

Hi,
After pruning my laurel hedge, I now have lots of prunings ~ 2 cu metres ( in 1 ton bags)
After searching the internet, I found conflicting advice about what can safely be done with them as apparently they contain prussic acid which is poisonous. Does anyone know the best way to use them in the garden or allotment?
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flimbin

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On 6/20/2008 7:19 AM, flimbin wrote:

If your "laurel" is Laurus nobilis (bay laurel or Grecian laurel), enjoy it. It's bay leaves are used to season gravies, soups, and meat dishes.
If your "laurel" is Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurel cherry), P. laurocerasus (English laurel), or P. lusitanica (Portugal laurel), the leaves can indeed be quite toxic. But this is true of the leaves of all Prunus species, including peaches, plums, almonds, cherries, etc. A single fresh leaf of a peach tree can kill a small child. To some extent, the kernels inside the pits of Prunus species are also toxic. Almonds should be eaten in moderation; a single almond-like kernel from a peach pit can kill a person. However, the leaves can still be composted or used as a mulch. The prussic acid (cyanide) breaks down during composting and does not contaminate edible plants.
If your "laurel" is Umbellularia californica (California laurel), the leaves can substitute for the bay leaves from L. nobilis. However, use them sparingly since the flavor of U. californica is much stronger than the flavor of L. nobilis. Also, some people might be allergic to U. californica.
Here we have three different genuses of "laurel". One is the commercial source of an herb. One is quite toxic. And one might be an herb substitute. That's why the botanical names of plants are important, to distinguish which plant is really meant when the same common name is applied to different species.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I am fairly sure they are cherry laurel, but it's so long since I planted them that I cant remember. However, from what you have said, they are safe to use in the garden but I shouldn't eat them or feed them to the neighbours' children.
David E. Ross;799455 Wrote: > On 6/20/2008 7:19 AM, flimbin wrote:-

> can

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> dishes.

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--
flimbin


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