Are tulips poisonous?


I studied agricultural sciences with full conviction - an obvious choice for me, as I grew up on my parents’ farm and learned early on to find joy in taking care of plants and animals.

Favourite fruit: grapes, mangos and bananas.
Favourite vegetables: brussels sprouts, spinach and potatoes

With the first warmer days of spring, the tulip bloom is in full swing. Tulips invade the flower vases in the home even before that. But are tulips poisonous?

Red and white flowers of the tulip
Once the tulip flowers, it has passed the most critical stage of growth [Photo: Sergey V Kalyakin/]

Everyone knows them, everyone likes them: The lush blooms of the tulips are for many the starting signal for spring. But do not get carried away with the joys of spring, however, because the tulip is actually more poisonous than it looks. Here we discuss what to look out for and what to avoid when coming into contact with tulips.

Are tulips poisonous for dogs, cats and humans?

Tulips (Tulipa) can be toxic to animals and humans in several ways. The toxin tulipalin contained in the plant can because damage both internally and externally. Smaller animals such as dogs, cats or rodents are more susceptible to oral ingestion of tulipalin because they usually ingest larger amounts and also carry a smaller body weight. In horses, the increased intake often leads to stomach cramps.

Purple and white flowers of the tulip
Protect your pets from eating tulips as much as possible

Toxicity of tulips: what parts of the plant are poisonous?

Basically, all parts of the tulip are poisonous, because the tulipalin (plant poison) is present in all parts of the plant. The tulip bulb is affected, as well as the stem, leaves and flower. We often hear of cases of poisoning where tulip bulbs have been mistaken for conventional edible onions.

Close up of a red tulip flower
Every component of the tulip – from the bulb to the flower – is poisonous

Our tip: When storing the tulip bulbs you should mark them well and store them widely separated from your edible bulbs. This should make a mix-up impossible. If children live in your household, please be especially careful!

Tulip poisoning: symptoms

Firstly, intensive skin contact can because irritation or redness, which, depending on the sensitivity of the person affected and the dose of tulipalin, can lead to severe inflammation. To avoid so–called “tulip bulb dermatitis”, you should wear gloves during intensive contact.

Note: Protective creams usually promise more than they ultimately deliver.

Wearing gloves to plant the tulip bulbs
It’s better to wear gloves when working with tulips and tulip bulbs [Photo: Jullex51/]

On the other hand, oral intake can affect digestion. Large amounts because stomach cramps, vomiting, or even respiratory failure. However, for such pronounced symptoms, a really large amount (in relation to body weight) must be ingested. To date, unfortunately, there are no precise surveys of when a critical dose of tulipalin was ingested.

Conclusion: You do not need to be afraid of contact with your beloved tulips. However, a healthy amount of caution when handling tulips – especially with young children – is definitely in order.

If you still want to grow the beautiful flowers in your garden, here is an article about planting tulips.

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