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Common Name: Spurge Laurel
Daphne laureola is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It has medicinal uses.
All parts of the plant are poisonous[
]. In excess it can cause paleness, pupil dilation, swelling of the mouth and lips, diarrhoea, convulsions, pulmonary disorders, difficulty of deglutition and death[
Skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people[
Western and southern Europe, from Britain and Belgium to Spain and Macedonia, N. Africa, W. Asia.
Woods, mainly on calcareous soils, where it is widespread and rather common[
Prefers a moist soil and a position in semi-shade, growing well in woodlands[
]. Plants are often found growing in dense shade in the wild[
]. A good sandy loam suits most members of this genus[
Flowers are produced towards the ends of the previous year's growth[
]. They are sweetly scented[
Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible[
The leaves have been used as an emmenagogue and laxative, though they can cause purging and vomiting[
Both the leaves and the bark have been used to procure abortions[
The plant contains various toxic compounds and these are currently being investigated (1995) for anti-leukaemia effects[
Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe with the pot sealed in a polythene bag to hold in the moisture. Remove this bag as soon as germination takes place[
]. The seed usually germinates better if it is harvested 'green' (when it has fully developed but before it dries on the plant) and sown immediately. Germination should normally take place by spring, though it sometimes takes a further year. Stored seed is more problematic. It should be warm stratified for 8 - 12 weeks at 20°c followed by 12 - 14 weeks at 3°c. Germination may still take another 12 months or more at 15°c[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in spring after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame.