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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 11, 2010
Rick Johnson, Weed Coordinator- 360-786-5576

Spurge Laurel spreading throughout Thurston County

Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola) appears to be moving rapidly into forest Ecosystems across Thurston County. This shrub is usually found growing in isolated clumps but it is capable of forming large, dense monotypic stands.

This invasive plant looks somewhat like a garden ornamental that can grow in size to appear as a small tree. Leaves are densely whorled near the top of the stem. Leaves are very dark green, shiny, smooth and thick. The twigs are stout and have a strong odor when cut. The flowers are small and light green with orange stamens, in clusters of 2 to 10 at the base of the leaves and fragrant at night when they attract moths.

The fruits are poisonous, one-seeded, oval, black berries. Flowering occurs from late January to late March or early April, followed by berries in early summer.

Noxious Weed staff has found nearly 70 infestations in 2010. County staff has removed over 100 plants from county rights of way.

Additional infestations are located at: 12th SW;14 NW; 26th NW; 59th NW; 93rd NW; Arbutus St NE; Cooper Point Rd; Crestline Blvd NW; Delphi NW, Elliot Ave NW; French Rd NW; Holmes Island RD SE; Island View Drive NE; Madrona Beach Rd NW; Martin Way E; Mullen Rd SE; Oldport LN NW; Salty DR NW; and Sunset Dr. NW.

Spurge laurel is a slow-growing, shade-tolerant, long-lived evergreen shrub from Europe and the Mediterranean region that has escaped from gardens to woodlands and other shady places. Spurge laurel can grow in a wide range of conditions, but it thrives in full to partial shade and well-drained soils. Its primary means of spread is by birds and rodents eating the berries although it can also spread vegetatively by root sprouts.

The berries, leaves and bark are poisonous and handling the plant can cause contact dermatitis. Once established, this plant is very difficult to eradicate.

Spurge laurel is a serious threat to certain native forest ecosystems particularly Garry Oak woodlands and dry Madrone/Douglas fir forests. Most of the escaped populations are small, scattered and frequently found on the rights of way.

Thurston County residents are encouraged to report suspected infestations of Spurge Laurel to the Noxious Weed Unit of Thurston County Resource Stewardship at 360-786-5576.


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3