Native to northern Iran and Asia Minor. Rare in gardens, this ele- gant, pest-free shrub deserves much wider use. It grows 24 feet tall and wide, spreading slowly by underground rhizomes. The glossy green, lance-shaped leaves along its arching stems are actually modified stems called cladophylls; they reach 4 inches long. Inconspicuous greenish yellow flowers appear in summer, followed by showy red berries at least inches across that persist into fall and winter. Cut branches are highly prized by flower arrangers. Newly emerging shoots in spring resem- ble elongating spears of asparagus, to which the plant is closely related.
Alexandrian laurel makes an elegant addition to the shade border. Give it moist, rich, well-drained soil and shield it from direct sun. Propagate by division in spring. Prune away winter-damaged foliage in early spring. Not browsed by deer.