Daphne Laurel – Toxic, Invasive Beauty

Hey nature lovers! The past couple of days have been spent out in the garden, doing something I never thought I’d be doing – pulling up dozens of longstanding, beautiful plants that I quite like.

Why? Well, just the other day I spotted an invasive species notice for Vancouver Island that had a picture of a plant that I recognized instantly. This plant. It was right outside our kitchen window. And many other places.

This is Daphne Laurel, also known as Spurge. This is the wikipedia page, here is the invasive species notice, and here is the entry from Worksafe BC.

This plant has been on the property for as long as I can remember. The birds eat the berries. Once a hummingbird came and looked at us through the kitchen window, then proceeded to take a little bath in the rainwater that had collected on one of the leaves of the Daphne. I’m sad it’s gone.

Because it’s now gone. The sap is toxic. It can cause all sorts of irritations like swellings and rashes. The berries are toxic, and have one death to their name, a toddler. The plant also apparently releases a gas when cut that can cause loss of consciousness and even falling into a coma!

Needless to say, I kitted out in full PPE. Goggles, N95 mask, gloves, and long sleeves.

I do want to do right by the Daphne Laurel, which is neither a Daphne or a Laurel. First, I replaced the plant outside our window with a couple of nice shrubs. A boxwood and a sarcococca.

Second, this post and these pictures were done to show the side of Daphne Laurel that I’ve seen all these years. A nice, seemingly benign ornamental with cute little flowers.

Finally, I’m going to base a character of some kind on this plant. The character of course will be named Daphne Laurel, and might be invasive and toxic, but subtle, and there all those years unnoticed in plain sight. Lots to draw from.

If you see this plant, or think you do, you can contact the invasive species body in your area for instructions. Be careful!

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