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Spurge Laurel

Spurge Laurel

Spurge Laurel

(Daphne laureola)

Priority: -  Contain

Tags: Terrestrial | Toxic

Identification and Reproduction


  • Spurge-Laurel, also known as Daphne laurel, is an evergreen shrub with spring-blooming yellowish green flowers and black berries. 
  • Can grow up to 1.5 meter height 
  • Leaves are very dark green, shiny, smooth and thick, arranged in a whorled pattern. 
  • The twigs are stout and have a strong odor when cut. 
  • Flowering occurs from late January to late March or early April, followed by berries in early summer - flowers are pale yellow and located between leaf nodes (not at the tip of stems like other similar shrubs like rhododendrons)

  • Occurring in late summer, the berries are black and poisonous to people and pets, but not to birds. 


Spurge laurel can reproduce by seed or reproduce vegetatively through the production of root sprouts.

Habitat & Ecology

Spurge laurel can grow in a wide range of conditions, but thrives in full to partial shade and well-drained soils.



  • Health risk to people and pets. 
  • Contain toxic sap has been known to cause skin rashes, nausea, swelling of the tongue, and comas.


  • Outcompetes native forest species.


Mechanical/Manual Control:

IMPORTANT: 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.

  • Hand pulling small infestations is effective. 
  • Larger shrubs that are too big to pull can be cut below soil line.
  • It has been advised to use equipment that help gain leverage to dig up roots. 
  • Watch the area for resprouts and recut as needed. 
  • Once plants have been removed consider replanting area with native species or covering surface with a thick layer of mulch to prevent regrowth. 

Chemical Control: 

  • It is advised to apply herbicide after a cutting treatment to prevent regrowth. 

For alternative planting options to spurge laurel download the ISCBC's Grow Me Instead brochure (pg. 19 and 20).


King County offers more information on spurge laurel identification and control methods. Note this is a US resource so Canadian guidelines and reguations may differ. Be sure to read product and chemical labels prior to use. 

Header photo (peganum).