|Foliage and fruit|
Daphne mezereum, commonly known as mezereum, mezereon, February daphne, spurge laurel or spurge olive, is a species of Daphne in the flowering plant family Thymelaeaceae, native to most of Europe and Western Asia, north to northern Scandinavia and Russia. In southern Europe it is confined to medium to higher elevations and in the subalpine vegetation zone, but descends to near sea level in northern Europe. It is generally confined to soils derived from limestone.
It is a deciduous shrub growing to 1.5 m tall. The leaves are soft, 3–8 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are produced in early spring on the bare stems before the leaves appear. They have a four-lobed pink or light purple (rarely white) perianth 10–15 mm diameter, and are strongly scented. The fruit is a bright red berry 7–12 mm diameter; it is very poisonous for humans, though fruit-eating birds like thrushes are immune and eat them, dispersing the seeds in their droppings.
Daphne mezereum is very toxic because of the compounds mezerein and daphnin present especially in the berries and twigs. If poisoned, victims experience a choking sensation. Handling the fresh twigs can cause rashes and eczema in sensitive individuals. Despite this, it is commonly grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for its attractive flowers. The native wild version became a protected species in the UK in 1975 under the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act.
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- "Daphne mezereum". The Plant List. Retrieved 2017-11-19.
- "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Nelson, Lewis S.; Weil, Andrew; Goldfrank, L.R.; Shih, Richard D.; Balick, Michael J. Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. New York: Springer. p. 144. ISBN 0-387-31268-4. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- This article is based on a translation of an article from the German Wikipedia.
- Manfred A. Fischer: Exkursionsflora von Österreich, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-8001-3461-6
- Smeil, Fitschen: Flora von Deutschland, Heidelberg, Wiesbaden.
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