Are Daffodils Poisonous?
Daffodils are one of the surefire signs of spring – almost all of us have daffodils growing somewhere on our property. And if we don’t, we can always pick up some fresh ones from the grocery store! But as beautiful as they are, daffodils are actually poisonous to humans and animals.
Don’t go pulling them all up just yet though – there are several things you can do to prevent problems.
Are Daffodils Poisonous to Humans?
All parts of a daffodil are poisonous to humans. If ingested, daffodils can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth irritation that generally lasts for several hours. While most people are unlikely to eat a deadly amount, daffodils contain potent poisons that shouldn’t be messed with.
The poison comes from a toxin called lycorine. Most lycorine is stored in the bulb, but all parts of a daffodil have toxic amounts. The bulb also contains oxalates, which are piercing chemicals that can irritate the lips, mouth, and throat.
Possible Poisoning Scenarios
While you wouldn’t normally think of someone picking up a daffodil and eating it, consider:
• Young children can be drawn to the flowers or bulbs and try to eat them.
• If not stored properly, daffodil bulbs can be mistaken for onions and used in meals. (Note that a daffodil bulb doesn’t have the distinctive smell that an onion does.)
• A daffodil’s stems look very similar to an herb called Chinese chives. Like the bulbs, someone could accidentally use the daffodil stems for cooking if they aren’t marked properly.
• You can be poisoned by something a daffodil comes into contact with. There are many reports of people drinking daffodil water from a vase and experiencing nausea.
• The liquid in daffodil stems can irritate your skin if handled for a long time, so it’s recommended that you wear gloves if you’re working with them.
And if you’re wondering: a daffodil is extremely bitter and not tasty at all, so you (or your children) are unlikely to enjoy it enough to eat a deadly amount. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you or someone else ingests any part of a daffodil, you can call the Poison Control Center.
Are Daffodils Poisonous to Animals?
Daffodils are also poisonous to most animals. In addition to nausea and vomiting, daffodils can cause heart problems and breathing troubles if an animal eats enough.
Cats and Dogs
If a cat or dog ingests any part of a daffodil (or drinks the water one was sitting in) they can suffer the same symptoms as humans. You may also notice lethargy, drooling, trouble swallowing, panting, vocalizing, and more. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten any part of a daffodil.
Daffodils can hurt other animals, including birds, cattle, and horses, if eaten. Symptoms for these animals include abdominal pain and nausea, as well as possible damage to their hearts, respiratory systems, and brain functions. Always contact a vet if your animal eats a daffodil.
How to Protect Yourself from Daffodil Poisoning
The likelihood of the average person being poisoned by a daffodil is extremely low – hence why they’re used so often and enjoyed by many. It’s easy to prevent any poisoning and irritation when working with your daffodils by following a few precautions.
• Keep all parts of a daffodil away from children and pets. Place any cut daffodils on a high, safe plateau where little ones can’t reach them. When outside, watch carefully to make sure no one gets into the daffodil patch.
• Store bulbs in a special, well-marked area, far away from your onions and any other food storage.
• Use gloves when handling any part of a daffodil.
• After cutting and arranging daffodils in a vase, or working with them in any other capacity, wash your hands well. Don’t reuse the vase water for any other purpose.
Using a Daffodil’s Toxicity to Your Advantage
There are several ways you can leverage the lycorine found in daffodils to protect your yard and other flowers.
Consider planting daffodils in and around areas frequently bothered by deer – the deer are more likely to stay away from spaces where a dangerous plant is present.
Plant daffodils on the outer edge of a bulb flower bed or interplant them with better-tasting bulbs, like tulips. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, mice and other small bulb-eating critters are most likely going to try the daffodils first. Since daffodils are extremely bitter, they may leave your other, more tasty bulbs alone.
Enjoy Your Daffodils
While daffodils are poisonous, they are still safe to have around the house under most circumstances, and there’s no need to go digging up your flower patch. Just exercise caution, especially with children and pets, and you should be able to enjoy your daffodils safely for years to come.
This post is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advisement. Always contact your doctor or veterinarian for medical advice and care. Visit the disclaimer for more.
Elizabeth Heasman says
Can cutting daffodils in half cause a bad rash on face and arms?
Here in the Catskills says
Yes, that’s certainly possible, especially if you’re allergic.