I continue the winter serie “Colours in the bushes” with the Daphne. This small bush is a really dangerous plant even if its flowers are beautiful and have a nice fragrance.
The plant was named from the Greek Daphne which means Laurel. Botanical names can be really clear by the meaning but also really confusing. Daphne, a Naiad and the daughter of Peneus, asked her father to transform her in to a Laurel tree to escape Apollo who pursued her. It is said that she was turned in to the rhododaphne (rose laurel) which likes to grow close to rivers (Peneus, her father was a river god) but it would more likely have been the Oleander, Nerium oleander, which is a common Mediterranean bush and also called Rose Laurel to add to the confusion.
But my Daphne is not a laurel. The best known is the Daphne mezereum, on the picture above, known as Mezeron. Mezereum means poisonous in Arabic, all daphne genus are highly poisonous for humans. The pink flowers are followed by red berries.
Daphnes are small bushes from 20cm to 1,5m depending the species. The fragrant flowers appears in March for the most of them. They can be deciduous or evergreen bushes.
The Daphne laureola, spurge laurel in English, is evergreen and can be planted in a shady place. The flowers are green/yellow and also appear in March. They seem insignificant but in a dark area they give light as do the shiny dark green foliage.
Daphne odora and D. bholua is recommended as a very fragrant bush. The D. cneorum is a dwarf bush 20cm tall, the D. x transatlantica has a long flowering period from Spring to Autumn.
Never forget that this plant have a nice fragrant a beautiful flowers but is very poisonous.
Words and photographs : Maxime Carton