Also known as: Daphne, Daphne spurge, Daphne-laurel, laurel-leaved daphne, 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 in the Pacific Northwest. 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:||Smooth, oval leaves are 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, giving way to groups of green berries that ripen to black by early summer.|
|Bloom Time:||February to April|
- Spurge laurel grows best in areas with low light like forest understories.
- It is known to form dense stands in forested areas, especially those close to urban areas.
- It prefers well drained soils.
- Spurge laurel 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.
- This plant is toxic to humans and domesticated animals. Ingesting the berries or any other part of the plan can cause nausea or vomiting. Contact with the sap from this plant can cause a wide variety of skin irritations.
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 when handling it because its toxic sap chemicals can irritate skin.
- Manually removing it 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