Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola)



Evergreen shrub with thick, waxy leaves growing up to 1.5 m tall.  White fragrant clusters of flowers are followed by small black berries.  Stems are smooth, green to grey-brown.


This Eurasian ornamental has escaped cultivation into forests, fields, coastal bluffs, and Garry Oak ecosystems.  It thrives in full sun, part shade, and full shade.  On Galiano Island, it can dominate the forest understory on rich sites and move into old agricultural fields and pastures.


Spurge laurel is poisonous, harmful to the touch, and outcompetes native plants in the forest understory.  It can also move into Garry Oak ecosystems and displace sensitive native species.


Spurge laurel is highly toxic and should be handled very carefully.  Thick gloves and protective clothing are essential to avoid exposure to toxic sap.  Small plants can be hand-pulled; larger plants should be cut just below the root collar during or prior to flowering.  Repeat cutting are usually necessary over the course of several years to control or eliminate a population. Removed plant material should never be burned; instead, it should be bagged and discarded in a landfill, or dried out on an impermeable membrane and then discarded in the forest in a shady area, provided it is located where it will not result in a fire hazard.

Our Experience

As long as necessary precautions are taken to eliminate the risk of skin exposure, spurge laurel populations are fairly straightforward to manage.  Hand-pulling and cutting can proceed relatively quickly, and if performed on an annual basis can quickly control or eliminate a population.  Spurge laurel should be removed wherever it occurs.

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