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Spurge laurel

Scientific name: Daphne laureola
Despite its name, Spurge laurel is not a laurel - it just looks like one! It has glossy, dark green leaves and black, poisonous berries, and can be found in woodlands in southern England, in particular.

Species information

Statistics

Height: 1.5m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to April

About

Spurge laurel is an evergreen shrub with glossy leaves that is found in open woodlands and hedgerows on chalky soils; it is particularly fond of beech woods. Its green clusters of flowers appear over winter, from December to April, and are followed by black berries. It is a highly poisonous plant to humans, but not to birds.

How to identify

A small shrub, Spurge laurel has dark green, shiny, narrow leaves that are clustered at the top of each stem. The small, yellow-green, four-lobed flowers are tubular and borne in clusters. They are followed by green, egg-shaped berries that ripen to black.

Distribution

Widespread, but scattered distribution, in England and Wales.

Did you know?

Despite its name, this shrub is neither a spurge nor a laurel - it's one of two species of Daphne native to the UK (the other is Daphne Mezereum).

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.