Daphne gnidium (spurge-flax, wolf spurge), D. mezereum (mezereon, spurge
olive, February daphne), D. laureola (spurge laurel). Members of the plant family
THYMELACEAE. Daphne includes attractive fragrant-flowered, ornamental shrubs
or trees. Popular plants, cultivated for parks as well as for decorative indoor or
conservatory use: (D. mezereum), species bearing scarlet-red berries, (D. gnidium,
D. mezereum), or with green fruit which blacken upon ripening (D. laureola).
The fruits each contain globose oily brown seeds.
Animals most affected
Ingestion of the bark, berries or branches
in times of food shortage. Poisoning by the plant very rare due to its extremely
All parts of the plant are highly toxic and
contain mezerein, an acrid, bitter resin that is extremely irritant.
Oral doses not well known:
30 g bark
Gastrointestinal (very severe)
vomiting, burning and swelling of the mucosae of the lips, mouth and tongue;
colic, haemorrhagic diarrhoea.
malaise, dullness, prostration, coma;
frequently death, which is rapid in onset.
If the animal recovers, possibility of sequelae (nephritis).
acute gastritis and enteritis;
No specific antidote. Symptomatic care only,
often with minimal effect:
adsorbents, gastric demulcents;
In southern Corsica, poisoning of sheep and
goats by wolf spurge (D. gnidium) has
been reported. Incidents of poisoning occur where the dense undergrowth (or 'maquis')
has been cut back and rotavated. Wolf spurge is deeply rooted and thus regrows readily.
During times of drought the shrub is the only green plant available to grazing animals.
Intense and severe gastric disturbances (diarrhoea)
with painful spasms (in ewes,
death may occur very suddenly, almost without
any preceding clinical signs). Lesions observed in these cases are pulmonary oedema
(always in the case of ewes) and acute or peracute enteritis.