daphne, common name for, and genus name of, certain low deciduous or evergreen shrubs native to Eurasia. In the United States several naturalized species are cultivated for their handsome foliage and fragrant flowers, e.g., D. mezereum and D. laureola, commonly called spurge-laurel and olive-spurge respectively but unrelated to the true spurge or laurel. The dried bark of D. mezereum was used medicinally, but the plant is poisonous. D. genkwa has been used in China as an effective abortifacient. Daphnes are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Myrtales, family Thymelaeaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.