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Daphne, also known as spurge-laurel, was introduced from Eurasia. It is a slow-growing, shade-tolerant and long-lived evergreen shrub that is a favorite among gardeners and a popular food source for birds. Growing 0.75 to 1.5 m tall, this deep-rooting invasive has a clustered leaf arrangement and small yellow-green flowers.

How does it spread? 
Daphne spreads primarily by seed when birds and rodents eat the berries but it also spreads vegetatively by root suckering.  In southwestern BC, birds feed on the shiny black berries, distributing the seed around woodlands.

Where would I find it? 
Daphne is very adaptable to sun or shade and doesn’t require disturbed soil or open ground to become established. It grows well along roadsides, in moist, shady, temperate woodlands and lowland areas where soils are well-drained.

What problems does it cause? 
Spurge laurel grows rapidly forming dense, clumps that can quickly colonize large areas. These leafy thickets reduce the amount of light reaching the forest floor, alter soil chemistry and acidity and out-compete native vegetation. The sap is known to cause dermatitis in some people and the leaves, bark, and berries are poisonous.

Additional Recommendations

  • Japanese Evergreen Azalea (Rhododendron kiusianum hybrids) (z6) 
  • Christmas Box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis) (z7) 

A provincial initiative coordinated by ISCBC


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