Spurge-laurel
(Daphne laureola)
Simple
Linear
Alternate
Shrub, Toothless, Evergreen

leaves

shrub

fruits

distribution map

The glossy, hairless, leathery leaves are narrowly oval, about 5-12 cm long and clustered near the top of the stems. They do not smell of almonds when crushed like Cherry Laurel leaves do.

ID check

Spurge-laurel is an evergreen shrub, branching from the ground and rarely exceeding 1 m in height. It is found in open woodland, on lime-rich soils, particularly in beech woods.

The small bright, yellow-green, 4-lobed flowers are tubular and borne in clusters of 3-10 in the axils of the upper leaves.

The flowers, which are highly scented, open between January and April.

The one-seeded, egg-shaped berries are green at first, but turn black when ripe in late summer.

Facts

  • The berries are very POISONOUS to humans, but can be eaten by birds like greenfinches without causing them any harm.

  • The sweet-smelling flowers attract pollinating moths and bees.

  • The Latin name Daphne is after the water nymph, who the Gods turned into a laurel-bush to hide her from the advances of Apollo.

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