Other names: February Daphne, Paradise Plant, Spurge Olive
Daphne mezereum, commonly known as February daphne, mezereon, mezereum, spurge laurel or spurge olive, is a species of Daphne in the flowering plant family Thymelaeaceae, native to most of Europe and Western Asia, north tonorthern Scandinavia and Russia.
It is a deciduous shrub growing to 1.5 m tall. The leaves are soft, 3–8 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are produced in early spring on the bare stems before the leaves appear. They have a four-lobed pink or light purple (rarely white) perianth 10–15 mm diameter, and are strongly scented. The fruit is a bright red berry 7–12 mm diameter; it is very poisonous for humans, though fruit-eating birds like thrushes are immune and eat them, dispersing the seeds in their droppings.
Daphne mezereum is very toxic because of the compounds mezerein and daphnin present especially in the berries and twigs. If poisoned, victims experience a choking sensation. Handling the fresh twigs can cause rashes and eczema in sensitive individuals. Despite this, it is commonly grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for its attractive flowers. [Wikipedia]