Mezereon plant - Daphne Mezereum (Thymelaeaceae)

Medicinal Use of Mezereon – Daphne Mezereum (Thymelaeaceae)


Hardy deciduous shrub growing to 4 ft (1.2 m). Has oval to lance-shaped leaves, clusters of red or pink flowers, and small red berries.

Habitat & Cultivation

Mezereon is found in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, in damp mountain woodlands. It is cultivated as a garden plant. The root and bark are gathered in autumn.

Parts Used

Root, root bark, bark.


Mezereon contains diterpenes (including daphnetoxin and mezerein), mucilage, and tannins. Though highly toxic, daphnetoxin and mezerein have anti-leukemic properties and have been used to treat cancer.

History & Folklore

Mezereon was formerly well used in northern Europe, both internally as a purgative and externally as an ointment for cancerous sores and skin ulcers. The Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) recorded that the bark was applied to the bites of poisonous reptiles and rabid dogs. People have reportedly died simply from eating birds that have eaten the highly poisonous berries.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Today, mezereon is considered too poisonous to be ingested. Mezereon is used occasionally as an external counter-irritant and is effective on rheumatic joints, increasing blood flow to the affected area.


Under no circumstances should mezereon be taken internally. It should only be used externally under professional supervision, and never on open wounds.