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Poisonous Plants in GB

42 43 Mezereon And spurge lAurel Daphne mezereum laureola Mezereon family illustrated Thymelaeaceae. A rare and beautiful native shrub. Popular in gardens for its fragrant clusters of early pinkpurple blossoms, followed by the distinctive red fruit. All parts of this highly attractive plant are deadly poisonous. Mrs. Grieve 1931 tells us that Russian peasants used a large dose as a drastic purge, although we are not told if this led to fatalities. Johnson relates that the berries have an influence over the nervous system somewhat resembling monkshood and deadly nightshade. Medicines prepared from bark, roots and berries were used to treat neuralgia, syphilis, rheumatism, snake bites, and by virtue of its ability to cause a flow of sebaceous fluid, certain skin diseases. Dr. Woodville 1791 relates that it was the first herb to compete with mercury in treating syphilis. He also relates the sad tale of a mother who gave it to her daughter, causing the childs death. In modern medicine it has found a place in treating leukaemia, and in homeopathy to treat eczma, shingles, respiratory and bladder complaints. Active ingredients include the resin mezeen, and a bitter glucoside known as daphnin. The herb has been used in veterinary medicine to treat horses hooves. Spurge Laurel. Daphne laureola not illustrated. Family Thymelaeaceae. A small native evergreen shrub, preferring woodland on lime soils. Somewhere between a laurel and a large spurge in appearance, bearing small yellowgreen flowers and shiny black fruit. As for the above species, all parts of this plant are highly poisonous. Formerly used in treating intestinal parasites, but discontinued due to the high risk.
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