Daphne mezereum (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

February daphne (Daphne mezereum) is an ornamental shrub that grows across southern Canada. This shrub and other Daphne species are poisonous to humans and animals. The plants contain irritant chemicals that cause pain, burning, and tingling sensations on exposed skin. These sensations are intensified on mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, and stomach after ingesting the fruits. More serious symptoms also occur in humans, including kidney damage, which may lead to death. With the exception of February daphne, the other Daphne species and cultivars are found only as ornamental plants in the more southerly and temperate parts of Canada. February daphne is naturalized in several eastern provinces. Horses and swine have been poisoned and have died after ingesting daphne leaves or berries, although poisoning of animals is a rare occurrence. Family pets can be poisoned if they have access to the plants. Several references give additional information (Frohne and Pfander 1983, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Lampe and McCann 1985, Fuller and McClintock 1986).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Frohne, D., Pfander, H. J. 1983. A colour atlas of poisonous plants. Wolfe Publishing Ltd., London, England. 291 pp.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Fyles, F. 1920. Principal poisonous plants of Canada. Can. Dep. Agric. Exp. Farms. Bull. 39. 112 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Daphne mezereum L.
Vernacular name(s):
February daphne
Scientific family name:
Thymelaeaceae
Vernacular family name:
mezereum

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Daphne mezereum

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada, Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Newfoundland
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or Illustration

Images: Daphne mezereum - Google Search

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

All the Daphne species in this information system have the same toxic chemical found in all parts of the plant. The only part of the plants without mezerein is the fruit pulp. It is the broken seeds that are responsible for symptoms when fruit is chewed. Ingesting one or two of the bitter berries can cause severe poisoning in children. Twelve berries can be fatal to an adult human (Frohne and Pfander 1983, Fuller and McClintock 1986).

Toxic parts:

  • All Parts
  • Bark
  • flowers
  • Mature Fruit
  • Seeds

References:

  • Frohne, D., Pfander, H. J. 1983. A colour atlas of poisonous plants. Wolfe Publishing Ltd., London, England. 291 pp.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Daphnetoxin and mezerein are diterpene alcohols with a daphnane skeleton. Mezerein has cocarcinogenic activity as does the chemically related phorbol esters found in many toxic members of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). In mice, daphnetoxin was determined to have an LD-50 of 275 micro g/kg and the mouse ear inflammation unit is 0.2 micro g of mezerein per ear (Frohne and Pfander 1983). The bark of these daphne plants contains a coumarin glycoside that has the aglycone dihydroxycoumarin (Fuller and McClintock 1986).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • Daphnetoxin
  • Dihydroxycoumarin
  • Mezerein

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Dogs

No details about poisoning symptoms available.

Horses

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Horses have been poisoned by the leaves and berries of the Daphne species. Abdominal pains, breathing problems, and death occurred. Post- mortem symptoms included inflammation, swelling, and blood-stained contents of the gastrointestinal tract. Experimental feeding produced similar symptoms but did not result in death. Only 100-150 g of the plants, which are bitter, were eaten (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Human poisoning by the Daphne species can include minor irritation of the mouth region including pain, burning, and tingling. If the plant material is also chewed and ingested, more severe symptoms occur, including bloody diarrhea, abdominal pains, vomiting, and convulsions. In severe cases, prostration, hallucinations, shedding of the lining of the oral and mucous membranes, and renal damage can occur. In one case, a child was killed in Nova Scotia after ingesting berries (Fyles 1920). Ingestion may lead to muscular twitching and somnolence, which persists for days. Few cases of poisoning actually occur, but the consequences of ingestion can be serious (Frohne and Pfander 1983, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Lampe and McCann 1985, Fuller and McClintock 1985).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Frohne, D., Pfander, H. J. 1983. A colour atlas of poisonous plants. Wolfe Publishing Ltd., London, England. 291 pp.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ.California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Swine

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

A litter of 10-week-old pigs were given daphne berries and they died suddenly. The pigs had vomited before they died. Postmortem examination revealed white, burned patches in the mouth and an intensely inflammed stomach (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

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