It really does pay to wander off the beaten track while out for a walk. On my usual walk in Donadea Forest, Kildare, I decided to go off the well-worn path in search of some plant inspiration. Usually when I do this though I end up coming back disheartened, having not found anything interesting under the tree canopy.
Much to my delight, this time was different. I stumbled across quiet a beautiful gem underneath a large beech tree. Sitting underneath the towering tree, in the dappled sunlight, was a plant no taller than .5 meter. Daphne laureola, is an ever green shrub with white to yellowish-green flowers found in a cluster at the top of each stem.
More commonly called spurge-laurel or daphne-laurel, it is a plant native across most of Europe. It is most commonly found in woodland areas and areas with alkaline soils. The plant can grow to around 1.5 meters tall by about the same distance wide. Once I explored the area more I did discover more mature plants which had reached this size.
The plant however does have a darks side, it is highly toxic to humans. The black berries which appear as soon as the flowers fade can be eaten by birds however. Outside of Europe and its native growing habitats the plant is considered an invasive weed.