Portuguese Laurel

Portuguese Laurel

The portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica subsp. lusitanica) is a rare tree, native to the Iberian Peninsula, French Pyrenees and North Africa, considered in danger of extinction by the IUCN.

This tree belongs to the same family as the roses and its considered a paleotropical relic, that is, it was part of the persistent and laurid (Laurissilva) vegetation that occupied the Iberian Peninsula during the Tertiary era, when there was a subtropical climate. The geological changes that took place at the end of the Tertiary and during the Quaternary, which led to the installation of the Mediterranean climate (marked by a well-defined dry period) in the Iberian Peninsula and critical cooling periods, were responsible for the near disappearance of the Laurissilva forest. However, some of its elements managed to survive, taking refuge in territories with very special climate (humid and not very cold climates, little affected by frost), where they remain until today.

Native Portuguese Laurel communities, are very rare. They are present very punctually in the Iberian Peninsula, where they are, in most cases, in poor condition. In Portugal they can be found in some valleys of central and northern Portugal, in areas with significant rainfall in the summer, which in some situations is offset by the presence of fog during the same season.

The European Union has recognized the importance of preserving Portuguese Laurel and has integrated it into the Habitats Directive (92/43 / EEC) as a priority habitat for conservation.