Also known as: Daphne, Daphne spurge, Daphne-laurel, olive-spurge, and wood laurel
Spurge laurel is a hardy evergreen shrub that threatens some of the Willamette Valley’s most endangered habitats. Introduced as an ornamental plant, it has escaped from gardens and now spreads throughout forested areas. It can grow upright or droop over to crawl along the ground. It is also toxic to humans and domesticated animals. Be sure to wear gloves when handling this plant to avoid skin irritation!
|Life Cycle:||Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||Yes|
|Height:||Up to 5 feet (1.5 meters)|
|Leaf Description:||Spurge laurel is evergreen and keeps its waxy leaves through the winter. |
Its oval leaves are smooth and arranged in spiral clusters at the end of branches. Leaves are dark green and shiny on top and lighter green on the underside.
|Fruit & Flower Description:||Small, yellow-green flowers appear at the base of leaves in January.|
Its flowers give way to clusters of green berries that ripen to dark purple by early summer. Its berries are poisonous if consumed.
|Bloom Time:||January to April|
- Spurge laurel grows best in shady areas will well drained soils light like forest understories.
- It is known to form dense stands in forested areas, especially those close to urban areas.
- It out competes native plants and can create a monoculture Growing a single crop or plant.. This is a concern for endangered habitats in the Pacific Northwest like oak woodland forests.
- It is toxic to humans and domesticated animals. Ingesting the berries or any other part of the plan can cause nausea or vomiting. Contact with its toxic sap can cause skin irritation.
What we’re doing about it:
- Spurge laurel is a priority species for the Tualatin SWCD. As such, our Invasive Species Program has been actively monitoring and treating it throughout the watershed.
- If reported within Washington County, a specially trained crew can come out survey for it. If found, the crew will treat the infestation for free.
What you can do about it:
- If you think you’ve found spurge laurel, please report it to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline.
- Make sure to wear gloves whenever handling it. Its toxic sap can irritate skin and its berries are poisonous.
- Manually removal is effective. Its best to remove it in late winter or early spring when soils are damp, making the roots easier to pull from the ground. Be careful to remove the entire root system and throw the plant away in a plastic bag in the trash— not your yard waste bin or home compost.
- Weed wrenches can assist with manually removal. If you are in Washington County, we lend these tools for free from our tool library.
Western rhododendron (rhododendron macropyllum) is often confused with spurge laurel. Western rhododendron’s fruits and flowers are found above the leaves, whereas spurge laurel flowers can be found under its leaves.
Noxious Weed Listing:
Download the Spurge Laurel Best Management Practices Factsheet
- Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook: Spurge laurel