Spurge Laurel

Daphne laureola

Spurge Laurel

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
Is this Weed Toxic?:

humans, livestock

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.

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 Does it Reproduce?

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

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 big to pull can be cut below soil line. Watch the area for resprouts and recut as needed. Also, try using a tool like a Weed Wrench, Extractigator, or Uprooter to leverage larger plants out of the ground, along with their roots. Check with your county noxious weed board to see if they have weed wrenches they can loan out.

Herbicide Control

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

For More Information

See our Written Findings for more information about spurge laurel (Daphne laureola).

Thurston County NWCB Fact Sheet on spurge laurel

Whatcom County NWCB Fact Sheet on spurge laurel

Island County NWCB Fact Sheet on spurge laurel

Jefferson County NWCB Fact Sheet on spurge laurel

San Juan County NWCB Poster on spurge laurel

Control Options for spurge laurel from Whatcom County NWCB

Additional Photos