Daphne, or, as it is also called, Volchnik, belongs to the Volchnikov family. These are deciduous or evergreen shrubs, widely known for their fragrant flowers and poisonous berries.
Distributed in Eurasia, about 17 species are found in Russia.
One of the species of this plant - Wolf bast - is listed in the Red Book.
For the first time this plant was described by C. Linnaeus, who called it Dáphne, which from Greek translates as "laurel".
This name was due to the fact that the leaves of the she-wolf resemble laurel leaves, and according to myths, Daphne turned into a laurel when she ran away from Apollo, who was chasing her.
The Russian name "wolfberry" and "wolfwort" is given, apparently, because the plant is very poisonous, and in Russia everything dangerous was associated with wolves. The name "wolf bast" has received the appearance of this shrub for a very strong bark, which is difficult to break.
Daphne as an ornamental plant
Daphne is a low shrub, up to one and a half meters high, has 50 species. The crown is sprawling or cup-shaped. The leaves are smooth, leathery, alternate, short-leaved.
The wolf blossoms amazingly. Flowers with 4 petals fused into a tube at the base densely cover last year's shoots. Color is different: greenish-white, pink, white. Deciduous species usually have pink shades of flowers, and evergreens are greenish. 8-10 stamens are arranged in 2 rows. They emit a very fragrant smell. The aroma is felt at a great distance, and it differs in different species: some shrubs smell of vanilla (Daphne alpina), others smell lilac (Daphne striata), the smell of Daphne philippi resembles a violet, Daphne blagayana - a clove. It blooms in early spring or late winter. On some species, flowers form directly on the shoots of sleeping buds. Blooms for 15-20 days, in cool weather, flowers last more than a month.
Drupe fruits of bright red, black, yellow or white color are stored on branches for a long time. The fruits are bright and juicy, which attracts birds that carry seeds.
Common types of daphne
In the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, as well as in Asia Minor, the wolfberry Albova (Daphne albowiana Woronow) is found. It grows in the subalpine zone at an altitude of up to 2200 m above sea level. Usually - at the edges of forests.
This winter-green species of daphne 1 meter high, has bright red fruits and small-skinned small leaves. Propagate, as advised, better seeds that are 100% rooted. It blooms in May, in July bears fruit.
In the Alps grows Alpine Daphne (Daphne alpina L). Alpine shrub reaches 50 cm tall. At the tips of the shoots, tassels-bundles of white flowers are formed, which bloom at the end of May. Berries ripen by mid-July. Sometimes in October it blooms a second time. Growing slowly.
It begins to bloom in 2 years. Very resistant to frost. At the same time, it is weakly cut.
Altai wolfberry (Daphne altaicaPali), also called Crimean (D. taurica), as well as wolfberry Sofia (D. Sophia). This is a very beautiful shrub similar to a tree. Deciduous plant with a height of half a meter and a half has a round trunk, which, like the branches, is covered with red-brown bark. Leaflets oblong, narrowed to a short petiole, gray-green, sometimes with a whitish fringe below.
Flowers of this species are white, gathering 3-7 in inflorescences at the tips of branches. It blooms very plentifully and beautifully in May-June for a period of 3 weeks. Blossom begins simultaneously with the blooming of leaves or immediately after them. After flowering, drupe berries are brown-black, bright red or black. In September-October, the second flowering occurs, weaker, the fruits after it do not form.
Altai wolfberry grows in small groups and singly on rocky slopes, in the floodplain of rivers, at the foot of hills. It is found mainly in Western Altai. Crimean Daphne has long been considered a separate species. It is successfully propagated by seeds, as well as root offspring, cuttings. Loves lighted places. Winter-hardy enough. It is protected as a rare endemic of the Russian flora. It is not recommended to use in landscaping due to the high toxicity.
Sofia daphne grows in the Don basin, in the Belgorod region. His flowers are snow-white. It is listed in the Red Book.
Kamchatka Daphne (Daphne kamtschatica Maxim) can be found in Khabarovsk, Primorsky Krai, the Far East, Kamchatka, Sakhalin. It grows on stony soils in forests. It is a shrub up to half a meter high. His flowers are small - up to 1 cm in diameter, pale yellow, fragrant. Drupe berries are red. Grows in small groups in shady places, creating beautiful corners in the forests.
The deadly wolfberry, or Wolf bast (Daphne mezereum L) grows in the forests of European Russia, the Caucasus, Western Siberia, and also in Western Europe. One of the most beautiful shrubs in European and Russian parks and gardens.
This shrub is low, rarely above 1 meter. It begins to bloom very early, before the leaves open, small flowers are collected 2-5 in bunches or single, densely cover the shoots. Coloring is lilac-pink, pink-lilac, cream-white is found. Flowering period - up to 20 days. Shrub is very fragrant.
Bushes at the end of summer are covered with bright red shiny berries, and become even more elegant from this.
If the branches are cut off in winter and put in water, soon flowers will appear on them, the aroma of which will fill the entire room.
Wolf bast grows slowly, frost-resistant. It prefers shaded areas, fresh peaty or well-fertilized soil. It suffers drought rather poorly.
Usually propagated by seeds, which are sown in autumn to a depth of 1 cm. Before sowing, the seeds are freed from the pulp, kept in the dark, germinated at 200C.
Also, the wolf is well planted with cuttings, for which they take annual shoots. He does not like transplantation, therefore it is better to plant cuttings immediately in containers.
When planting in public places, be sure to put warning signs about its toxicity.
The habitat of the upland wolfberry (Daphne cneorum L) or Daphne Julia (Daphne julia K) is a mountain in southern and central Europe. Also found in the Belgorod and Kursk regions of Russia. Listed in the Red Book, protected. This is a relict shrub up to 30 cm tall and 2 m in diameter. On the branches of a dark brown bark. Leaves 2 cm long, leathery, perennial. The top of the leaves is dark green, the lower side is bluish. Leaflets are collected on the tops of branches in sockets.
Blossoms after the deployment of leaves: in May-June. In the second half of summer, repeated flowering occurs.
The flowers are cherry, pinkish, rarely white. The flowers completely cover the bush and smell strongly of vanilla.
It grows very slowly, by 3-7 cm per year. In nature it forms small groups, and also singly at the edges and forest glades, it is rarely found among other shrubs.
The roots of the boron daphne very deeply penetrate the ground - up to one and a half meters, so it is impossible to dig wild plants, and it is forbidden. When planting in gardens, lime soil is prepared and moistened. He likes sunny places, however, tolerates partial shade. The shrub is quite finicky, not always amenable to cultural planting. It does not form seeds, therefore this plant is propagated by green cuttings, which is a little labor-intensive. It tolerates winters.
Caucasian wolfberry (Daphne caucasica Pall), in addition to the Caucasus, grows in Central Asia. This species has white flowers blooming in May and black fruits. The bark is light gray.
The Pontic Daphne (Daphne pontica L) grows in the Western Ciscaucasia, in the undergrowth of forests in the mountains, it can be found at an altitude of 500-2000 m. It can grow singly, as well as in groups, forming thickets. He loves open places, fertile soils more.
Pontic Daphne is a beautiful evergreen shrub that grows up to 1.5 meters wide and tall. Leaves are oval with a sharp tip, shiny, dark green. Yellow-green flowers emit a strong aroma, 2-3 are collected in racemose inflorescences. Flowers bloom in early summer. Fruits are black juicy berries. Resistant to the winters of central Russia.
An olive-like wolfberry (Daphne oleoides Schreb) is found in Central, Asia Minor, North Africa, and Southern Europe. It grows to 50 cm. Its shoots are pubescent, the berries are red. It grows slowly, blooms in May and June. It tolerates winters.
The odorous wolfberry is also called fragrant (Daphne odorata Thunb). His homeland is China. This is an evergreen shrub that grows up to 90 cm in height, forming a domed shape. The flowers are cherry red, appear in early spring, even in winter, have a sweet aroma. The fruits are poisonous. It grows well on calcareous talus, and is often used to decorate the southern slopes of rock gardens.
A magnificent ornamental plant is the daphne gutta (Daphne x Houtteana Lindl. Et Paxt). This semi-deciduous shrub, growing in width and height to 1.25 m, blooms in early spring, forming brushes of 2-5 purple-pink or purple-red flowers with a fragrant smell. Foliage of a wolfberry is of an unusual purple color, and retains this color during the flowering period. Rarely fruits, berries are poisonous. It tolerates frosts up to -230С.
How to care for a wolfberry
Daphne is planted using freshly picked seeds, layering, cuttings from semi-lignified shoots, and also dividing the bush. The bush does not like transplanting. Strong pruning is also contraindicated, in the autumn you need to remove only diseased and weak shoots, while maintaining the general symmetry of the plant.
In the first years of development, it is important to form the correct form, for which shoots are shortened, tillering of the plant is achieved. It is useful to mulch the soil, creating coolness and humidity for these roots and making it possible to avoid damage to superficial small roots during soil cultivation, which lead to rot damage and then death of the whole plant.
Use daphne with caution
An ordinary daphne is grown as an ornamental shrub. He is very beautiful during flowering, fruiting. An early flowering wolfberry helps spring create beautiful compositions of primroses. The plant blooms easily, even the branches cut off in the winter, put in water, give flowers.
All daphne are magnificent early honey plants. But fresh honey can not be consumed, it should be boiled, otherwise it can cause inflammation of the intestines and mucous membranes.
From paper daphne (Daphne papyracea) in Nepal produce the best grades of paper.
Daphne in nature (video)
Antibacterial and laxatives, sleeping pills are made from daphne. The bark for drugs is harvested in the spring before flowering, cutting it into strips and drying it in the open air or in ventilated rooms. Berries harvested in July-August are dried at a low temperature in special dryers. All work should be done with gloves, since even after drying the plant retains toxic properties.
In folk medicine, alcohol tinctures are made from daphne for the treatment of gout, radiculitis, rheumatism, tumors and abscesses. Juice of the fruit lubricates the bite of dogs and snakes. From flowers make anthelmintic drugs.