Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Early blooming spurge laurel

 At this time of year we are all on the lookout for the first sign of spring flowers - the first celandine, colt'sfoot or maybe even a precocious primrose - but one of the first native species to flower is a shrub, spurge laurel Daphne laureola.  Its lime green flowers, with golden stamens, tend to be tilted downwards under the glossy evergreen foliage, so are easily overlooked. 

This plant is one of several currently in flower on the south bank of the river Tyne, upstream from the Tyne Green Country Park in Hexham, Northumberland. Spurge laurel is an uncommon shrub in Northumberland and Durham - I can only recall seeing it in three locations, but there are probably about a dozen in this population. It is a slow-growing shrub and probably slow to establish and reach flowering size.

I didn't notice at the time that I took the picture, but there was a small sap-sucking insect on the flowers, that I have yet to identify. The flowers are said to have a nocturnal fragrance that attracts moth pollinators, but they also produce nectar that attracts early-emerging bumblebees.

This last photo shows spurge laurel's black berries, which ripen in June. They are poisonous.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.