Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spurge laurel - made for the shade

Thursday's Guardian Country Diary is about a lone spurge laurel Daphne laureola plant, that I first found 35 years ago and is still thriving, partially hidden in the shade of a holly and hawthorn hedge at Wolsingham in Weardale. 

It's an easy-to-overlook plant until early March, when it produces these tight clusters of lime green flowers. The flowers, whose nectaries are at the bottom of the floral tube, attract long-tongued bee pollinators during the day but, like all Daphne species, they're scented. Their fragrance is weak during the day but much stronger at dusk, when they attract moth pollinators.

It's a very uncommon plant hereabouts. This year the shrub narrowly escaped serious damage when a tractor with a hedge cutter was used to trim the hedge. It was saved by the fact that it's a shade-loving plant and was so well woven into the gloom at the bottom of the hedge that the cutter could only reach a few of the tips of its twigs. I've rescued those and managed to root a couple, and if I can grow it in the garden next year I hope to take a closer look at the kinds of moths that are attracted to its nocturnal fragrance.


  1. I hope that you are successful in growing on those offcuts.

    1. So far, so good .......... two have rooted!