Daphne / Mezereum Family

Western Leatherwood © DSchiel

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

Iconic Features

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

    Description (Jepson)

      • Most often shrubs; can be trees or vines
      • 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
      • 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)
        • Ambiguous, complex flower parts have made classification of species challenging
      • 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
        • Western leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) is the only representative of this family in Edgewood

        See General References

        Specific References

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

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