Daphne Family

Western Leatherwood © DSchiel

Mezereum Family
Thymelaeaceae (thim-e-le-A-see-ee)

Iconic Features

  • Usually shrubs
  • Flexible stems with shiny bark
  • Flower a tube, funnel, or bell

Description (Jepson)

  • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
    • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
    • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
    • Flower parts in fours and fives
    • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
    • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
    • Taproot system
  • Most often shrubs; can be trees or vines
  • Stems
    • Distinctly flexible
    • Shiny bark
    • Raised leaf-attachment scars
  • Leaves
    • Simple (not divided into leaflets) and entire (with smooth margins)
    • Usually alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem)
  • Flowers
    • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) usually a cluster at the leaf axil (branching point)
    • Usually bisexual flower, with tube, funnel or bell shape
    • Ovary superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
  • Fruit usually a single-seeded berry (a usually multi-seeded fruit with a fleshy ovary wall), often mistaken for a drupe (a fleshy fruit with usually 1 seed in a hard inner shell — a stone fruit)


  • Approximately 750 species worldwide
    • Includes ornamental plants (e.g. daphne)
  • Many species are poisonous and have an unpleasant odor
  • Most species pollinated by butterflies and other long-tongued insects
  • Scientific name from the included Mediterranean
    genus Thymelaea, from the Greek for “thyme” and “olive,”
    referring to the thyme-like foliage and the small olive-like fruits of that genus
  • Common name from the shrub Daphne mezereum, native to Eurasia
  • Ambiguous, complex flower parts have made classification of species challenging
  • Western leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) is the only representative of this family in Edgewood

See General References

Specific References

Thymelaea hirsuta. 2005-2019. Flowers in Israel. Ed. Martha Modzelevich.

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