Is aquilegia poisonous to humans and animals?


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

As innocent as it looks, we always hear that aquilegia is poisonous to humans and animals. We have investigated and clarified this.

Beautiful pink columbine flowers
Although it looks harmless, columbine seeds and roots are poisonous [Photo: SakSa/]

Aquilegias (Aquilegia) have been discredited as toxic on many websites. Anyone who has an aquilegia in their own garden knows that the hardy plant multiplies en masse, but tends to have less of the appearance of a poisonous plant. So what’s the truth behind the rumours?

Hildegard von Bingen used the aquilegia as a tincture to cure fever. However, plants that can heal, are not infrequently also poisonous. The ingredients of the plants, which are effective in medicine, help in small doses against all kinds of ailments. In higher doses, however, they can also cause considerable harm to us humans. However, the aquilegia does not pose any great danger. Although symptoms of poisoning may occur, these also subside quickly.

Is aquilegia poisonous to humans?

For humans, aquilegia is slightly poisonous. It contains the substance magnoflorin and a hydrocyanic acid-forming glycoside. Consumption is therefore not advisable, because this could result in shortness of breath, heart problems and cramps. Fortunately, neither substance found in the aquilegia comes in very high doses and so symptoms subside quickly. The toxins can even be destroyed by drying or heating the plant parts. However, sensitive people should be careful, especially with pruning or when weeding, because the escaping juices can cause skin irritation.

Columbine flowers growing outside
The aquilegia is slightly poisonous to humans

Is the aquilegia poisonous for cats, etc?

Pretty much all parts of the aquilegia are poisonous, especially the seeds. Fortunately, however, there is hardly any reason to worry. The plants have a bitter taste. Cats and dogs are therefore hardly likely to eat the leaves of aquilegia, which really offer no appeal. Nevertheless, make sure that rabbits, guinea pigs, etc are kept away from aquilegia. The smaller the animal, the less poison is enough to cause serious damage.

A cat among flowers
Cats and dogs generally are not interested in eating parts of columbine plants [Photo: Martina Osmy/]

Treating aquilegia poisoning

Poisoning caused by aquilegia is extremely unlikely. The plant does not taste nice, so neither children nor pets ever ingest larger quantities of it. Since aquilegias are only slightly toxic to humans and larger animals such as dogs and cats, any symptoms usually subside quickly. However, for small animals you should to be on the safe side and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Note: if larger quantities of leaves or seeds are consumed by children, you should consult a doctor immediately.

If you have now decided to plant an aquilegias in the garden, here is all the important information on the subject.