Herb: Winter Daphne

Latin name: Daphne odora

Synonyms: Daphne indica, Daphne japonica, Daphne sinensis

Family: Thymelaeaceae (Mezereum Family)

Medicinal use of Winter Daphne:

The flowers and the stems are anodyne, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, depurative and ophthalmic. A decoction is used in the treatment of backache, myalgia, skin diseases, poor vision etc. A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of laryngitis and sore throats. A decoction of the roots and leaves is used in the treatment of sore throat and caked breast.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

to March


Habitat of the herb:

In the shade of upland trees around 1000 metres.

Other uses of Winter Daphne:

The flowers are very fragrant, they are put in sachets and used for pot-pourri. They are also used to perfume water. The cultivar "Aureo-marginata" can be used as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe with the pot sealed in a polythene bag to hold in the moisture. Remove this bag as soon as germination takes place. The seed usually germinates better if it is harvested "green" (when it has fully developed but before it dries on the plant) and sown immediately. Germination should normally take place by spring, though it sometimes takes a further year. Stored seed is more problematic. It should be warm stratified for 8 - 12 weeks at 20C followed by 12 - 14 weeks at 3C. Germination may still take another 12 months or more at 15C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm long at a node or with a heel, July/August in a frame. Layering

Cultivation of Winter Daphne:

In the shade of upland trees around 1000 metres.

Known hazards of Daphne odora:

All parts of the plant are poisonous. Skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.