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Means "laurel" in Greek. In Greek mythology she was a nymph turned into a laurel tree by her father in order that she might escape the pursuit of Apollo.
Other Names: Daphne odorata. Daphne odora. D. lagetta. D. cannabina.
Common Names: Sweet-scented Spurge Laurel.
fragrant or winter daphne
In other languages -
Danish and Norwegian - Laurbaer
German - Echter Lorbeerstrauch
French - Laurier sauc
Homeopathic preparation: Tincture of the bark of the branches. (Allen’s Encylopedia).
N.O. Subclass: Rosidae: Order: Myrtales; Family: Thymelaceae or Daphne Family.
Provings: Allen: Cyclopoedia, V. 4. Hering: Guid. Symptoms, V. 5. Jahr: Symp. Codex.
Bute: Correspondenzblatt, 1837. (Bradford’s Index).
Description of the substance
General: This is a small, sparsely-branched, evergreen shrub, ultimately reaching about 1 metre in height and spread. The commonest clone, "Aureomarginata", has leaves with a narrow, erratic yellow margin. After a couple of years' growth, a plant will produce terminal clusters of small flowers in March (earlier under glass); they are crystalline white inside, deep purplish-pink outside, and have a strong and delicious scent, possibly the most delightful scent of any flower. The flowers last well in water. Best planted close to a path, where its fragrance can be conveniently appreciated. It is not difficult to grow, despite the remarkable variety of gardening myths about its requirements.
Like most daphnes, this plant is poisonous if eaten. The sheep that browsed mine last year seemed to find it delicious, however.
Native habitat: Western China; close relatives are found in the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan. Daphne odora was already being grown in Chinese gardens by the Sung period, 960-1279 AD. Many forms (including "Aureomarginata") are not known in the wild.
Hardiness: "Aureomarginata" is quite hardy in most areas of lowland Britain, as is its variant "Walburton". Some shelter - such as that provided by shrubs or woodland - may be advisable. Blackthorn Nurseries say that their green-leaved form is at least as hardy as "aureomarginata". (In a conservatory, less hardy clones could also be grown; one has pure white flowers. The usual forms may also flower better and for longer periods of the year.)
Soil: Tolerant of most soils, does not appreciate extremes such as very shallow, chalky soil, poor drainage, etc. Ideally, a deep, well-drained woodland soil with plenty of humus.
Sunlight: Tolerates full sun or quite deep shade. Ideally, full sun.
Pests, diseases, etc: Aphids can carry viruses, which cause the plant to grow and flower poorly; leaves are blotchy and twisted.
Pruning: Does not heal well over cuts into mature wood, and Brickell and Mathew1 suggest that pruning is best avoided. However, "pinching" (or taking cuttings from) the tips of long shoots on the current year's growth makes the plant much bushier and more floriferous.
Propagation: "Aureomarginata" does not set seed, and seed of Daphne odora is not available in the UK. Cuttings root fairly easily (my rooting rate - without any great skill - is about one-third). Cuttings can be rooted at almost any time of year. I have only tried between March and August; I have the impression that earlier cuttings root faster, and also make respectable plants in time for the next winter. I just cut off new growth when it's about 5 cm long, treat the base with rooting hormone, and firm it into moist horticultural sand, outside in shade in a plastic bag or sealed case. Growing on can be tricky; the plants take a long time to mature and do not like root disturbance.