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Mezereon

Daphne mezereum

  • Name also: Mezereum, February Daphne
  • Family: Daphne Family – Thymelaeaceae
  • Growing form and height: Erect-branched shrub. 0.5 to 1 m (1.5–3 ft.).
  • Flower: Corolla-like calyx bell-shaped, four-lobed, pink to purple, rarely white, 10–15 mm wide. Corolla absent. Gynoecium seemingly of one, but actually of two carpels. Stamens eight united with the corolla tube. Flowers borne in clusters of two to four in the axils of the leaf scars on the previous year’s shoots.
  • Leaves: Spirally. Short-stalked, crowded towards the shoot tips. Blade oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic, pale bluish-green beneath, with entire margins.
  • Buds: Egg-shaped, brown. Scale edges short-haired. Concentrated to tops of branches.
  • Fruit: Shiny red drupe, 1 cm wide.
  • Habitat: Rich forests, lush broadleaf woods, spruce-broadleaf swamps. Occasionally an ornamental. Prefers soils rich in lime (calciphile).
  • Flowering time: (Mars–)April–May. Flowers before coming into leaf.
  • Endangerment: Protected on the Åland Islands.

The genus Daphne comprises some 50 species native in Europe, Asia, or North Africa. In Europe there are several endemic species.

Mezereon is an erect-branched fairly demanding shrub. It flowers early in the spring, before the leaves appear. Flowers are fragrant. Shoots are densely leaved in their first year. The whole plant is poisonous.

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