Daffodils are gorgeous flowers often used to decorate cakes. Since they’re already part of things you’re used to eating, you might think, are daffodils edible?
It may appear innocent at first glance, but the yellow-trumpet daffodil, which has showy blooms, leaves, stems, and bulbs actually contains two poisonous compounds: Calcium Oxalate Crystals and Lycorine—found in daffodil bulbs.
These are harmful to humans and animals. In simple words, they’re silent killers.
Apart from being inedible, daffodils are a quintessential early bloom of spring, and their benefits extend beyond their ability to provide cheery color after the dreary winter months.
Although this may be the primary reason why most people plant daffodil bulbs, these lovely blooms may also increase pollination and beautify the garden with their color.
Before getting to the nitty-gritty of what makes daffodils toxic, let’s uncover their fascinating origins.
The humble daffodil, also known as Narcissus pseudonarcissus, common daffodil, or trumpet narcissus, is a bulb-forming plant that belongs to the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), and is often cultivated for its trumpet-like blooms.
Native to northern Europe, daffodils are now grown in moderate regions all over the globe.
The daffodil’s popularity has resulted in the production of wide varieties. In addition to the traditional yellow form, they may also be found in shades of pink, white, or orange.
The Greek Myth
The story of Narcissus in Greek mythology is where the daffodil’s family name comes from. A nymph named Echo fell for Narcissus, a young Greek boy, but he asked her to leave him alone.
Heartbroken, Echo chose to spend her life alone until nothing but an echo of her stayed. After hearing the story, Nemesis, the Greek goddess of revenge, leads Narcissus to a lake.
Impressed by his good looks, Narcissus bent down to examine his reflection more closely, accidentally fell in, and turned into a flower.
In Europe and North Africa, several varieties of narcissus may grow in various environments, ranging from the coast to subalpine meadows, forests, and rocky locations.
The most extensive range of species may be found in Spain, but one can also find these wonderful flowers in Portugal, Morocco, France, and Italy. Around the year 300 B.C., daffodils were first brought into gardens.
In his nine-volume work titled “Enquiry into Plants,” the Greek botanist and philosopher Theophrastus classified and characterized many of the first known varieties of Narcissus.
Romans believed that the sap from daffodils had curative properties, so they brought the flowers with them when they conquered Britain (making way for William Wordsworth to discover them later).
Classification and Breeding in the 19th Century
It was not until the 19th Century that an effort was made to classify several species of Narcissus. Although the term “daffodil” is most often used to refer to cultivars with bigger trumpet-shaped flowers, breeders and other fanatics refer to all types of daffodils as “daffodils.”
As a result of their widespread use for cultivation, hundreds of cultivars have been developed. The perianths (petals) are often yellow or white; however, they may also be orange, red, green, or a mix of these colors.
Beautiful but Potentially Toxic
According to the National Capital Poison Center, daffodils are beautiful but potentially toxic. Here’s what Serkalem Mekonnen, a certified specialist in Poison Information, says. (1)
Lycorine, a carcinogenic toxin, may be found in every part of the daffodil; however, the plant bulb is where the largest concentration of Lycorine can be found.
Consuming any plant portion might result in unpleasant side effects, such as vomiting, nausea, cramping in the abdominal region, and diarrhea. The duration of these symptoms is typically about three hours.
Animals that consume extremely high quantities of the plant have been known to have more severe side effects, such as drowsiness, low blood pressure, and damage to the liver. However, these side effects have never been recorded in people.
Additionally, the bulb includes a class of compounds known as oxalates, which are submicroscopic and have a needle-like structure. Oxalates, when ingested, result in severe burning and irritation of the mouth and throat region, particularly the lips, tongue, and throat.
They are also capable of irritating the skin. In most cases, the only necessary therapy is to gargle with water or milk and thoroughly rinse one’s mouth. Be on the lookout for signs of dehydration if nausea and diarrhea continue.
A medical assessment and therapy are required for a person who is drooling excessively, has trouble swallowing, or is experiencing acute discomfort in the throat. It is best not to plant or exhibit daffodils in areas frequented by young children or animals.
Side Effects of Daffodils
Daffodils are among the numerous plants that can protect your garden from hungry breeds, thanks to the presence of poisonous substances.
There are roughly 20 distinct poisonous alkaloids in daffodils, the most frequent being Lycorine, causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It’s no secret that these symptoms typically mean that your body is working to eliminate the toxin before it may develop more serious, potentially fatal complications, such as kidney failure or heart problems.
However, the truth is that daffodils are toxic, and ingestion of daffodils may have varying consequences, depending on which parts of the plant were eaten and which poisonous ingredient was ingested.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the possible side effects of consuming daffodils.
- Whooping Cough
- Nerve Disorder
- Lung Collapse
Frequently Asked Questions
Read on to find the answers to some questions regarding daffodils.
Is Daffodil Poisonous?
The answer is yes. Lycorine, a carcinogenic toxin, may be found in every part of the daffodil; however, the plant bulb is where the largest concentration of Lycorine can be found.
Consuming any plant portion might result in unpleasant side effects such as vomiting, nausea, cramping in the abdominal region, and diarrhea. The duration of these symptoms is typically about three hours.
Can Humans Die from Eating Daffodils?
Daffodils, if consumed by a human, may potentially be fatal. Nevertheless, we didn’t find any sources suggesting that anybody died from eating them in recent history.
However, we did come across a few stories of individuals who had mistaken the daffodil bulbs for onions. These bulbs found their way into a stew or some other dish that made everyone sick and sent them to the hospital.
Are Daffodils Poisonous to Dogs?
Unfortunately, yes—the yellow-trumpet daffodils are toxic to dogs. Daffodils are deadly if eaten and may poison dogs if they consume the bulbs or blossoms of the plant or drink water from a vase containing daffodils.
In addition to convulsions, they have the potential to make your dog sick to their stomach, causing them to throw up, and be extremely drowsy and unsteady.
Are Daffodils Poisonous to Cats?
It’s common knowledge that daffodils are poisonous to cats, but did you know they may also harm horses and dogs? The whole plant, particularly the bulb, contains toxins that may harm humans too.
If your cat consumes any part of the plant, particularly the bulb, you need to be very careful since it might lead to severe poisoning, irritate your cat’s skin, and induce drooling.
What Are Poisonous Daffodil Symptoms?
After consuming daffodil bulbs, one should expect to experience the traditional poisoning symptoms, including sleepiness, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and retching.
Following the intake of higher doses, symptoms including collapse and paralysis, and even death might occur. Due to the potential for harm, you should always make an effort to label any storage containers clearly.
Why Do People Eat Daffodils?
Regardless of their poisonous nature, some individuals around the world still choose to eat daffodils simply to satisfy their natural sense of curiosity. After all, many different types of flowers may be consumed.
Unfortunately, daffodils have a visual similarity to garlic chives, which increased the number of poisoning incidents among Chinese people living in the United Kingdom.
What Flowers are Edible?
It is a time-honored custom to place floral arrangements in the middle of one’s dining table, but you could even find flowers on your own plate.
Not all flowers are safe to eat (read: daffodils), but violas, roses, nasturtiums, lavender, and dandelions are some of the most common edibles from the garden. They are not only safe but can offer a burst of color and flavor to many dishes.
What is the Most Poisonous Part of Daffodil?
If consumed, the daffodil leaves, stems, and petals cause severe symptoms; however, the bulb is the most dangerous component of the plant because of the high quantity of the deadly chemical known as Lycorine.
Poisoning from daffodils may cause a variety of uncomfortable side effects, including nausea, disorientation, vomiting, diarrhea, burning, and in more severe instances, convulsions.
The Bottom Line
Daffodils, also known by their scientific name narcissus, are a subgroup of spring-flowering perennial plants that belong to the amaryllis family.
Each and every component of a daffodil is poisonous, causing stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if consumed. However, if you eat the bulb, you may get acute irritation of the mouth as well as stomach problems.
In most cases, these symptoms do not harm the patient’s life and go away on their own within a few hours.