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Daphne (Spurge Laureola)

Daphne is a genus of shrubs and small trees, some species of which have been introduced as ornamental plants in North America. One species, Daphne laureola, is considered an invasive species in some areas of North America, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.

Daphne laureola, also known as spurge laurel, is native to Europe and has been introduced to North America as an ornamental plant. The plant is able to invade a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and riparian areas. It can form dense stands and outcompete native vegetation, reducing biodiversity and altering nutrient cycling.

To address the issue of invasive species like Daphne laureola in North America, various organizations and government agencies have implemented management strategies, such as herbicide treatment and mechanical removal, to control the spread of invasive plants.

Why is daphne invasive?

    • A single daphne plant can turn into a patch containing thousands of stems
    • Daphne spreads underground through a rapidly expanding root system that constantly sprouts new plants
    • Daphne produces extremely resilient growth that re-sprouts after cutting

Is Daphne Edible?

The plant produces berries that are toxic to humans and animals if ingested, and the plant itself can cause skin irritation in some people. While some species of Daphne have been used for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine, Daphne laureola, which is the species considered invasive in some parts of North America, is not edible or recommended for medicinal use.

The plant contains a variety of toxins, including daphnetoxin and mezerein, which can cause skin irritation and blisters in some people. The berries of Daphne laureola are also toxic to humans and animals if ingested.

It is important to note that consuming any plant for medicinal purposes should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as many plants can have potential side effects and interact with other medications.

Why is it crucial to remove daphne?

    • Daphne berries, leaves, and bark are poisonous to humans, cats, and dogs
    • Daphne is most poisonous to children and pets
    • Daphne is highly invasive
    • Daphne crowds out native species
    • Daphne infestations will get worse over time
    • Daphne can harm natural waterways
    • Daphne can spread to neighbouring property
    • The spread of daphne degrades natural areas and displaces native plants
    • Daphne thrives and spreads rapidly in the understory of our Pacific Northwest forests


Invasive Species Compendium. Daphne laureola. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

King County Noxious Weed Control Program. (n.d.). Spurge Laurel. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

Oregon Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Spurge laurel (Daphne laureola). Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

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