Facts about Mezereon – Daphne mezereum

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Mezereon Quick Facts
Name: Mezereon
Scientific Name: Daphne mezereum
Origin Most of Europe and Western Asia, north to northern Scandinavia and Russia
Colors Initially green turning to bright-red as they mature
Shapes 1-seeded, fleshy, ovoid, bluntly-pointed drupe, about 7–12 mm diameter
Taste Intensely burning and acrid, though sweetish at first
Health benefits Beneficial for rheumatism, indolent ulcers, skin complaints and inflammations, venomous bites, neuralgia and toothache
Daphne mezereum, commonly known as mezereum, mezereon is a species of Daphne in the flowering plant family Thymelaeaceae. The plant is native to most of Europe and Western Asia, north to northern Scandinavia and Russia. In southern Europe it is confined to medium to higher elevations and in the subalpine vegetation zone, but descends to near sea level in northern Europe. It is generally limited to soils derived from limestone. Dwarf laurel, February daphne, Flax olive, Mezereon, Paradise plant, Spurge daphne, Spurge laurel, Spurge olive, Tintorell, Daphne, Lady Laurel, Dwarf Bay, garland flower and Spurge daphne are some of the popular common names of the plant.

Mezereon Facts

Name Mezereon
Scientific Name Daphne mezereum
Native Most of Europe and Western Asia, north to northern Scandinavia and Russia
Common Names Dwarf laurel,  February daphne, Flax olive, Mezereon, Paradise plant, Spurge daphne, Spurge laurel, Spurge olive, Tintorell, Daphne, Lady laurel, Dwarf Bay, garland flower, Spurge daphne
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Mezereon
Albanian: Mezereon, Jargavan mali, xerxele
Amharic: Mēzēroni (ሜዜሮን)
Arabic: Maziriun (مازريون)
Armenian: Mezereon (մեզերեոն), gaylahat mahats’u (գայլահատ մահացու)
Azerbaijani: Mezereon, Adi canavargiləsi
Bashkir: Бүре еләге
Basque: Ereinoztxo, ario, ereinozki,  tartiku belarra         
Belarusian: Vaŭčajahada zvyčajnaja (Ваўчаягада звычайная)
Bengali: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən
Bulgarian: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən, byasno dŭrvo (бясно дърво), vŭlche liko (вълче лико), div lyulyak (див люляк)
Burmese: Rar wate (ရာဝတီ)
Catalan: Herba dels fics, Olivella, Olivereta, Tintorell
Chinese: Méi sāi lǐ áng (梅塞里昂),  Ou ya rui xiang (欧亚瑞香)
Croatian: Mezereon, obični likovac
Czech: Mezereon, lýkovec jedovatý
Danish: Mezereon, Pebertræ, Peberbusk
Dutch: Mezereon, Rood peperboompje, peperboompje
English: Dwarf laurel,  February daphne, Flax olive, Mezereon, Paradise plant, Spurge daphne, Spurge laurel, Spurge olive, Tintorell, Daphne, Lady laurel, Dwarf Bay
Esperanto: Mezereo, mezereon
Estonian: Mezereon, Harilik näsiniin
Filipino: Mezereon
Finnish: Mezereon, Lehtonäsiä, Näsiä, Lehtonäsiä
French: Mezereon, Bois gentil,  Bois joli,  Daphnà bois-gentil, Daphnà joli-bois , Daphnà mÃzÃréon,  Faux Garou, Lauréole femelle, Lauréole jolie, Daphné mézéréon, cancerille, daphné morillon, faux garou, garoutte, joli bois, lauréole femelle, lauréole gentile, merlion, morillon, mézéréon,
Georgian: Mezeroni (მეზერონი)
German: Mezereon, Echter seidelbast, Kellerbalz, Seidelbast, Gemeiner Seidelbast, Gewöhnlicher Seidelbast, Kellerhals, roter Seidelbast, Zilander
Greek: Mezeron (μεζερον), lykonourá (λυκονουρά), matzéreon (ματζέρεον), chamoliá (χαμοληά)
Gujarati: Mējhērōna (મેઝેરોન)
Hausa: Mezereon
Hebrew: מזרון
Hindi: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən
Hungarian: Mezereon, farkasboroszlán
Icelandic: Mezereon
Ido: Mezereono
Indonesian: Mezereon
Irish: Mezereon
Italian: Mezereon, Erba cativa, Laureola femmina, Laureola gentile, Legno gentile , Mezereon, Camalea, Dafne mezereo, Pepe di Monte, fior di stecco, laureola femmina, mezzereo
Japanese: Mezereon (メゼレオン), Seiyouonishibari (セイヨウオニシバリ)
Javanese: Mezereon
Kannada: Mejeriyan (ಮೆಜೆರಿಯನ್)
Kazakh: Mezereon (мезереон)
Korean: Meje lion (메제 리온)
Kurdish: Mezereon
Lao: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən
Latin: Casiam
Latvian: Mezereons, Parastā zalktene
Lithuanian: Mezereonas, Paprastasis žalčialunkis
Macedonian: Mezereon (мезереон)
Malagasy: Mezereon
Malay: Mezereon
Malayalam: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən
Maltese:  Mezereon
Marathi: Mējhērŏna (मेझेरॉन)
Mongolian: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən
Nepali: Mezereon-məˈzirēən
Norwegian: Mezereon, Kiukstbakst, Kiusbas, Kiusbast, Kiusvedd, Tivedd, Tusvedd, Tysbast
Occitan: Gaouét, garou, gaùec, jutelhs, samboè
Oriya: ମେଜେରନ୍
Ossetic: Cæstursgænæn  (Цæстурсгæнæн)
Pashto: ميزيرون
Persian: Mezereon, هفت برگ
Picard: Jolibò
Polish: Mezereon, Wawrzynek wilczełyko
Portuguese: Mezereon
Punjabi: Mezereon-məˈzirēən
Romanian: Mezereon, liliac de pădure
Russian: Mezereon-məˈzirēən, Volcheyagodnik obyknovennyy (Волчеягодник обыкновенный),  Volcheyagodnik smertel’nyy (Волчеягодник смертельный), volchnik obyknovennyy (волчник обыкновенный), volch’i yagody (волчьи ягоды)
Serbian: Mezereon (мезереон), ajdučka oputa (ајдучка опута)
Sindhi: ميزئيرون
Sinhala: Mezereon-məˈzi(ə)rēən
Slovak: Lykovec jedovatý
Slovenian: Mezereon, navadni volčin
Spanish: Mezereon, Hoja de San Pedro, Lauréola hembra, Leño gentil, Matacabras, Matapollo, Mecereo, Mecéreo, Mecerón, Mezereo, Mezereón, Olivareta, Torvisco, leño gentil, loriguillo, mecereon, torvisco,
Sudanese: Mezereon
Swedish: Tibast, Lehtonäsiä, Vanlig tibast, källarhals
Tajik: Mezereon-məˈzirēən
Tamil: Mezereon-məˈzirēən
Telugu: Mezereon-məˈzirēən
Thai: Mezereon-məˈzirēən
Turkish: Mezereon, Ghulupa, Mazaryon agh, Mezeryon, kirkat
Ukrainian: Mezereon (мезереон), Vovchi yahody zvychayni (Вовчі ягоди звичайні)
Upper Sorbian: Zažny łyknowc
Urdu: میزیرون
Uzbek: Mezereon
Vepsian: Kägennin’
Vietnamese: Mezereon, Thụy hương Á-Âu
Welsh: Mezereon, Bliwlys
Zulu: Mezereon
Plant Growth Habit Cool weather, shade-loving, woodland, deciduous shrub
Growing Climates Rich forests, lush broadleaf woods, spruce-broadleaf swamps
Soil Best grown in moist, rich, sandy-humusy, moderately alkaline, well-drained soils
Plant Size 80 to 150 centimeters and 1 to 1.5 meters width
Root Shallow roots
Bark Light grey-brown with a strong smell when fresh, especially the inner-bark
Stem Upright, brown in color, woody
Leaf Alternate, lanceolate, entire, 3–8 cm long and 1–2 cm broad arranged spirally on the stems. They are dark green in color
Flowering season February to March
Flower Flowers have four petals and are light red or red-violet in color.  They open out before the leaves spring out and a few can be seen to open in mild period in January. The flowers have a strong perfume.
Fruit Shape & Size 1-seeded,  fleshy, ovoid, bluntly-pointed drupe, about 7–12 mm diameter, appear close to the stem in July
Fruit Color Initially green turning to bright-red as they mature
Propagation By seed
Taste Intensely burning and acrid, though sweetish at first
Plant Parts Used Bark of root and stem, berries, roots
Season June to August
Other Facts
  • A yellow to greenish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves, fruit and bark.
  • The seed contains up to 31% of fatty oil.

Genus name was originally used for laurel (Laurus nobilis) but later transferred to this genus. Originally, from the nymph of the same name from Greek mythology, but could come from an Indo-European word meaning odor. Specific epithet comes from the Persian word mazariyun (name given to a species of Daphne). The plant is noted for their poisonous berries and scented flowers. All parts of this plant are poisonous to humans if ingested, especially the fruits, sap and bark. Plant saps also typically cause skin irritations. Plant saps were once used in a rouge-like cosmetic until it was discovered that rosy cheeks resulting from application of sap to skin were indicators of blood vessel damage rather than the blush of good health. Fruits are attractive to birds with no resulting ill effects.

Plant Description

Mezereon is a cool weather, shade-loving, woodland, deciduous shrub that normally grows about 80 to 150 centimeters tall and 1 to 1.5 meters width. The plant is found growing in rich forests, lush broadleaf woods and spruce-broadleaf swamps. It is best grown in moist, rich, sandy-humus, moderately alkaline, well-drained soils. The plant has shallow roots. Stems are upright, brown in color and woody. Bark is light grey-brown with a strong smell when fresh, especially the inner-bark. The leaves appear at the ends of the branches after the flowers, and are alternate, lanceolate, entire, 3–8 cm long and 1–2 cm broad arranged spirally on the stems. They are dark green in color.

Flowers and Fruits

The flowers have four petals and are light red or red-violet in color.  Flowers are produced in early spring on the bare stems before the leaves appear and a few can be seen to open in mild period in January. The flowers have a strong perfume. Flowering normally takes place from February to March. Fertile flowers are followed by 1-seeded, fleshy, ovoid, bluntly-pointed drupe, about 7–12 mm diameter; appear close to the stem in July. They are initially green turning to bright-red as they mature. It is very poisonous for humans, though fruit-eating birds like thrushes are immune and eat them, scattering the seeds in their droppings.

Traditional uses and benefits of Mezereon

  • Mezereum has been used in the past for treating rheumatism and indolent ulcers, but because of its toxic nature it is no longer considered to be safe.
  • The plant consists of numerous toxic compounds, including daphnetoxin and mezerein, and these are currently being investigated for their anti-leukemia effects.
  • Bark is cathartic, diuretic, emetic, rubefacient, stimulant and vesicant.
  • Root bark is the most active medically, but the stem bark is also used.
  • It has been used in an ointment to induce discharge in indolent ulcers and also has a beneficial effect upon rheumatic joints.
  • Fruits have occasionally been used as a purgative.
  • Homeopathic remedy is made from the plant.
  • It is used in the treatment of various skin complaints and inflammations.
  • An ointment was previously used to induce discharge in indolent ulcers.
  • Bark is used for snake and other venomous bites, and in Siberia, by veterinary surgeons, for horses’ hoofs.
  • In Germany a tincture of the berries is used locally in neuralgia.
  • Slices of the root may be chewed in toothache.

Precautions

  • All parts of the plant are highly toxic.
  • Skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people.
  • Berries have proved fatal to children.
  • It may cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach ache.
  • High doses can be poisonous.
  • It should be used under medical supervision.
  • Handling the fresh twigs can cause rashes and eczema in sensitive individuals.
  • Ingestion of plant parts leads within a few hours to severe irritation and a burning sensation in the mouth, with swelling of the lips and face, increased salivation, hoarseness and difficulty in swallowing.
  • These symptoms are soon followed by severe abdominal pain, headache, numbness, nausea and bloody diarrhea.
  • Children (who may be poisoned by the attractive red fruits) often show additional narcotic symptoms with muscular twitching.
  • Bark is not usually taken internally and even when used externally this should be done with extreme caution and not applied if the skin is broken.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=27126#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=13273

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Daphne+mezereum

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=287356

http://www.floracatalana.net/daphne-mezereum-l

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mezere34.html

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=DAME3

https://en.hortipedia.com/Daphne_mezereum

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2757105

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/DAPME

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_mezereum

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