An evergreen shrub of bushy habit 2 to 4 ft high, devoid of down in all its parts. Leaves oblanceolate, tapered gradually to the base, more abruptly to the point; from 11⁄2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark lustrous green, and of thick, firm texture. Flowers yellowish green, fragrant at times, opening in February and March; they are borne in clusters of three to eight blossoms, each cluster on a common stalk about 1⁄2 in. long, springing from the axils of the uppermost leaves of the preceding year’s growth. Flowers 1⁄3 in. long, 1⁄4 in. diameter. Fruit ovoid, bluish black when ripe, poisonous.
Native of S. and W. Europe, including England, and of N. Africa and the Azores. It prefers a moist soil and semi-shade, and is useful in woodland, chiefly for its shining evergreen foliage, for the flowers are only intermittently fragrant and have no bright colour to recommend them. D. pontica differs in having larger, mostly twin flowers produced at the base of the new shoots six or eight weeks later, and thinner leaves.
var. philippi (Gren. & Godr.) Meissn. D. philippi Gren. & Godr. – A dwarf, densely bushy shrub with sturdy, short shoots. Leaves closer and more densely arranged on the shoot than in the type; obovate, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 3⁄4 in. wide, dark glossy green. Flowers smaller than in the type, fragrant. Native of the Pyrenees.
D. (laureola var. philippi × cneorum) ‘Rossetii’. – This daphne was found in the Pyrenees between the wars by M. Rosset, nursery manager to Henri Correvon, who put it into commerce. Leaves narrowly oblanceolate, acute and often apiculate at the apex, narrowly wedge-shaped at the base, 5⁄8 to 11⁄8 in. long, densely set on the shoot, sessile to short stalked. The flowers, although rarely borne, have been observed in the nurseries both of Messrs Marchant and Messrs Hillier, and are small and greenish. It differs from D. laureola var. philippi in its smaller, relatively much narrower leaves and its more woody, pale brown stems (also, no doubt, in its flowers, but these have not been examined botanically).