Mezereon, Spurge-olive, Spurge-flax, or Dwarf-baY, Daphne Mexereum, L. an indigenous low shrub, growing in woods and shady places, and flowering in the month of February or March. When cultivated in gardens, it attains, in a rich soil, the height of sixteen feet.
The whole of this plant is so corrosive, that six of its berries are said to be sufficient to kill a wolf. An ointment prepared from its bark or berries, has been advantageously applied to foul or ill-conditioned ulcers. When chewed, its root occasions ulcerations, and considerable irritation in the throat ; but is very serviceable in removing difficulty of swallowing ; and Dr. Withering (Bot. Arr. vol. ii. p. 377), states, that a woman who had been unable to swallow any solids, and liquids very imperfectly, for three years before, was effectually cured in two months, and enabled to take any food without difficulty, by chewing a thin slice of the root of mezereon, as often as she could support its irritating effects.—On sudden emergencies, the root of the Spurge-olive, scraped and applied to the surface of the skin, affords an efficacious substitute for the Spanish-fly, as a blister which speedily operates :—it may also be applied in the form of issues.
Dambourney obtained from the stalks and leaves of the meze-reon, a fine vigogne dye ; and the stalks, alone, imparted a beautiful gold-brown shade to wool, previously dipped in a diluted solution of bismuth.—From the ripe berries of this plant, an excellent red lake is prepared by painters.