Carolina laurelcherry is a member of the genus Prunus that includes wild cherries, peaches, apricots, almonds, and plums. Commercial fruit trees have been bred from the wild forms in this genus.
These species all have high value as wildlife food and provide a significant food resource in the early spring and summer months. Black bear, deer, possum, raccoon, and fox all depend on the fruits, as do many birds, especially thrashers, mockingbirds, catbirds, and quail. Deer may browse on the vegetative parts of the trees as well. It is considered a low-quality, low-protein browse, but provides a good source of calcium and phosphorus. The trees also provide good nesting and cover for many birds.
Carolina laurelcherry is widely planted as an ornamental, with handsome, lustrous, evergreen foliage. It is generally used as a low-maintenance hedge or screening shrub. It becomes readily naturalized into woodland areas, once planted.
Carolina laurelcherry is found in the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Florida and west as far as Texas and Louisiana.