spurge laurel

Daphne laureola


Family: Thymelaeaceae

Other common names: Daphne, Daphne spurge, Daphne-laurel, laurel-leaved daphne, olive-spurge, wood laurel, copse laurel

Weed Class: B

Year Listed: 2007

Native to: Europe and Northern Africa

Toxic: humans, livestock

Other Legal Listings:

additional photos



Why is it a noxious weed?

It is considered problematic in garry oak and similar ecosystems in British Columbia. It has the ability to rapidly colonize areas forming monotypic stands and competing with native plants. All parts of the plant are highly toxic.

How would I identify it?

General Description: Spurge laurel is an evergreen shrub that grows to around 1.6 to 5 feet (0.5 to 1.5 meters) tall. The shrub habit can be upright or decumbent (arched at the base then spreading upward).

Flower Description: Flowers are small and very fragrant. Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers appear in clusters at the base of the leaves.

Leaf Description: Leaves are alternate and abundant at shoot tips. They are narrowly oval, being wider above the middle and are between 0.8 to 5.1 inches long. Leaves are smooth, dark green, and shiny on the top. They are lighter in color underneath.

Stem Description: Mature bark is gray with a yellow hue while young branches are green.

Fruit/Seed Description: Fruit are little black berries with one seed and are poisonous.

May be confused with:

How does it reproduce?

Spurge laurel reproduces by seed, also can reproduce vegetatively through the production of root sprouts.

Where does it grow?

Spurge laurel will grow in sun or shade and looks the best with some of both. Look for it in the forest understory. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of spurge laurel in Washington.

How do I control it?

General Control Strategy

Due to the irritating toxins in the sap, stem, leaves, and fruits, it is advisable to wear gloves and other protective gear when handling spurge laurel.

Mechanical Control

Hand pulling small infestations is effective. Larger shrubs that are too small to pull can be cut below soil line.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.


For more information

Thurston County Noxious Weed Control Board fact sheet
King County Noxious Weed Control Board web page
See our Written Findings for more information about spurge laurel (Daphne laureola).

Additional Photos



Spurge laurel growth habit


Spurge laurel leaves


Spurge laurel growth habit


Spurge laurel leaves




Beginning to bloom in February


Shrub habit


plant habit


newly opened flowers




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