Is Lily Of The Valley Poisonous : Understanding Lily Of The Valley Toxicity

Is Lily Of The Valley Poisonous : Understanding Lily Of The Valley Toxicity

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Few spring flowers are as charming as the nodding, fragrant lily of the valley. These woodland flowers are native to Eurasia but have become very popular landscape plants in North America and many other regions. However, behind their cute exterior and pleasant scent lies a potential villain. Is lily of the valley safe for gardens?

Lily of the valley toxicity makes it unsafe to have around children and pets. The plant is so dangerous that ingestion could result in a trip to the emergency room, or in rare cases, death.

Is Lily of the Valley Safe for Gardens?

Sometimes the smallest organisms pack the biggest wallop. This is the case with lily of the valley. Is lily of the valley poisonous? All parts of the plant are considered potentially toxic. The plant contains over 30 cardiac glycosides, many of which inhibit the heart’s pumping activity. Children and domestic pets are most commonly affected, but even a large man can be felled by the toxins.

In a home landscape where there are no children or pets, lily of the valley is probably safe. However, once you add little ones, cats and inquisitive dogs to the equation, the potential for danger increases. It doesn’t matter if only the flowers are eaten or if the entire stem or roots are consumed. The method of introduction to the toxins is gastronomic, although there are also contact dermatitis reports.

The most common effects are stomach ache, blurred vision, slow and irregular pulse, and in severe cases, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea, heart arrhythmia and even death. Lily of the valley toxicity is severe and difficult to treat. A rapid trip to the hospital is required even in cases of suspected ingestion.

Toxicity of Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley can be fatal if ingested, especially to children. The method of action is through cardiac glycosides, which create an effect much like exposure to that of Digitalis, found in foxglove. The plant is classified as a “1” on the poison scale, which means it has major toxicity that can lead to death. It is also a “3” due to its often severe dermatitis.

Experts recommend calling a Poison Control Center or calling 911 if any part of the plant is ingested. Convallatoxin and convallamarin are two of the main toxic glycosides in lily of the valley, but there are numerous others as well as saponins, which have not been well researched and whose method of action are not fully understood. The overwhelming effect is one of a cardiac episode.

Note: As little as two leaves of the plant can be a fatal dose in young children and pets. If this plant is present in your landscape, it is wise to remove it. This can help prevent any accidents with lily of the valley poisoning and keep the garden safe for everyone.

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Read more about Lily Of The Valley

What is Lily of the Valley Poisoning?

Lily of the valley is a perennial flowering plant that spreads underground like other bulb-type flowers such as the tulip and daffodil. They are about two feet tall when fully grown with dozens of sweet-smelling, bell-shaped flowers and berries (fruit) in the late spring and summer. The lily of the valley is a toxic plant that needs to be treated like any other poisonous substance around pets and children because it can be fatal to whoever consumes any part of the plant, roots, flowers, or berries within hours if treatment is not given right away.

The lily of the valley is not a true lily, but it is one of the more dangerous flowers that are commonly recognized as a lily because of its name. These beautiful flowering plants have tiny bell-shaped flowers. Although they are not the cause of kidney damage, such as with other lilies, they can still be lethal. The whole plant has toxic levels of cardiac glycosides, but the bulbs (roots) are the most dangerous, causing serious life-threatening symptoms within hours of consumption. Almost 40 different cardiac glycosides (cardenolides) have been isolated within the lily of the valley. As if that is not bad enough, this lily also contains saponins, which are other properties that are toxic to dogs, cats, and children if they are eaten.

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Lilies Containing Oxalates

Calcium oxalate is a serious substance. It has a structure that resembles tiny needles. Eating lilies containing this substance could result in irritation and swelling of the mouth, affecting the tongue, top of the mouth and lips. The types of lilies that include oxalate are the peace lily (Spathiphyllum cannifolium) and calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica). Peace lilies grow outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zone 9b. Calla lilies grow in zones 8 through 10.

Watch the video: Qu0026A What is this plant? Lily of the Valley


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