Are daffodils poisonous?


I study plant biotechnology and often find myself confronted with the serious consequences that lack of knowledge and misinformation can have for nature. That is why I am so passionate about bringing people and nature closer together again.

Favourite fruit: raspberries, strawberries and pineapple
Favourite vegetables: courgettes, broccoli and cucumbers

Daffodils shine splendidly in the garden in early spring. But many wonder whether the daffodil is poisonous. Is it true?

Yellow flowers of the daffodil
Daffodils shine splendidly in the garden at Easter

Daffodils (Narcissus), like our edible onion (Allium cepa), are among the plants that form bulbs as storage organs. Their thickened bracts act as a reserve for the winter. The daffodil bulb and the edible onion also look very similar. So it can happen that the wrong onion rings end up on your burger. But does it make a difference, or is this mix-up even dangerous?

Are daffodils poisonous?

The answer is yes, daffodils are poisonous due to chemical compounds found only in amaryllis family plants (Amaryllidaceae) – called amaryllidaceous alkaloids. Daffodils belong to the amaryllis family. The whole plant, but predominantly the bulb, contains these chemical compounds. They serve as a natural protection of the plant against parasite infestation and grazing herbivores. They have a cytotoxic effect, i.e. they kill cells.

Daffodils in the garden
The pure white petals accentuate the golden centre [Photo: klikkipetra/]

The sap of the daffodil can cause skin irritation. However, this usually disappears by itself. You should definitely consult a doctor if the bulb has been eaten. Nevertheless, some amaryllidaceous alkaloids are used in medicine, for example as active ingredients in dementia drugs, to inhibit tumour cells, or to inhibit the multiplication of viruses.

Poisonous daffodil: Symptoms of poisoning

After eating daffodil bulbs, typical symptoms of poisoning occur. Smaller amounts may because retching, vomiting, diarrhoea, light-headedness, sweating and drowsiness. After consumption of larger quantities, collapse and paralysis symptoms and even death follow. Because of this danger, you had better make the effort and always label storage containers well.

Note: If you have pets, you should store your bulbs out of their reach. Just 15 grams of daffodil bulb can kill a dog.