Our spurge laurel (Daphne laureola) program has been active for five years across the District in urban and rural areas alike, but perhaps the greatest focus area has been in Abbey Creek. This watershed is dotted with remnant patches of upland oak savanna–a rare and declining habitat that is also extremely susceptible to spurge laurel invasions. Spurge laurel, a medium sized, evergreen shrub with whorls of waxy, oval leaves on its upper stems, originated in Eurasia, but was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant. Each spring, it produces small dark olive-like fruits that are spread by birds and rodents. It thrives in shady understories and forms carpets of dense seedlings that outcompete native flora. Spurge laurel is especially a problem in Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) habitats–where numerous sensitive wildflowers, such as camas (Camassia quamash) and Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), are susceptible to displacement.
The good news is that spurge laurel is relatively easy to control and the District has had great success removing it from participating project sites. New seedlings and established plants can usually be controlled mechanically, using a weed wrench, or manually with gloves and elbow grease. Since 2011, the District has controlled 50 acres in the Abbey Creek watershed on over 20 properties. If you suspect you have spurge laurel, check out our CWMA Factsheet or contact our Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Michelle Delepine, 503.238.4775, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.