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Laburnum (bot. Laburnum), with its characteristic golden-yellow flowers, is one of the most popular flowering trees in temperate latitudes. It is precisely these flowers and their seeds that tempt children in particular to touch or even eat them. Many people wonder if laburnum is one of the native poisonous plants and if just touching it is enough to poison yourself.


Is laburnum poisonous?

The question of whether the species of the genus Laburnum are poisonous can be answered with a clear yes. Laburnum species are among the most poisonous plants in Germany, Central and Southern Europe and pose a great danger to humans and animals. All parts of the plant are poisonous without exception. The reason for this is the appearance of the flowers and fruits. While the flowers stand out due to their bright yellow, the legumes resemble conventional beans, which can be fatal. However, the differences with beans are clear, just not for children.

  • Cover less strongly colored
  • Fruits are very dark colored in the shell
Laburnum, Laburnum anagyroides

They pose the greatest danger, especially when they are still closed, as they look confusingly similar to garden beans. The toxicity of the plant comes from the ingredients that are found in Laburnum in quite high concentrations in terms of their toxic effect:


Cystine is a toxin that belongs to the group of quinolizidine alkaloids, of which laburnums contain large amounts. These alkaloids are nitrogen based and the poison itself has the following properties.

  • toxic effect
  • Intoxicated states are not triggered
  • has an interaction with the brain like nicotine, so it affects it immediately after ingestion
  • is found in the seeds at a level of 1 percent
  • also contained in other parts of the plant such as the leaves and flowers
  • similar in effect to the poison of the poison dart frogs

A special feature of the toxin is the seasonal amount. Depending on the seasons and the condition of the plant, the more or less cytisine is present in the plant parts. But even if the poison content should be much less in a season, it does not mean that these may be consumed. There is a great danger especially when the seeds are ripe.


In addition, the types of laburnum contain other substances such as N-methylcytisine and laburnine, which have different effects on the body. For example, laburnine always occurs together with cytisine.


This additional toxin is only found in alpine laburnum (bot. Laburnum alpinum) and has a damaging effect on the central nervous system.

Together, these substances create a cocktail of dangerous properties that can affect not only children and numerous animals.

Tip: The poison cytisine is so dangerous that planting laburnum and other plants such as broom (bot. Genista germanica) and honey trees (bot. Styphnolobium japonicum) near kindergartens, elementary schools and playgrounds is expressly forbidden. Poisoning by the plant usually occurs through specimens in your own garden, on public property or those that have gone wild.

Laburnum, Laburnum anagyroides

effect on people

A great advantage of laburnum is the fact that it cannot be poisoned if it is touched. Although there are enough toxins in all parts of the plant, they cannot be released into the skin. Only when the plant is chewed can the substances take effect. Rubbing the plant also has no effect and for this reason the laburnum species are actually safe to handle. However, eating and especially swallowing the parts of the plant, especially the seeds, must be avoided. The following symptoms are the same in children and adults.

  • tachycardia
  • increased salivation
  • sweats
  • Irritation of the mucous membranes for up to two hours
  • Vomit
  • blood in the vomit
  • Tremble
  • nausea
  • circulatory failure
  • respiratory paralysis
  • cramps
  • death if swallowed

The laburnum is poisonous immediately when it comes into contact with saliva, as well as when chewed, but here the symptoms are still on the "safe side". If the seeds or other parts are swallowed, death, usually from respiratory failure, can occur within a short period of time. The first symptoms of poisoning in children appear from one seed, in adults only from three.

The lethal dose is:

  • Children: 15 - 20
  • Adults: from 23

There are twelve of the leaves that cause symptoms of poisoning. A feeling of mental excitement is characteristic of the laburnum at the beginning, which can give way after 15 minutes and make way for discomfort. If your child has eaten parts of the laburnum plant, you must go to a children's clinic or hospital immediately. Be sure to drink water during transport.

effect on animals

Even for animals, especially mammals and birds, the laburnum is poisonous in every essence. Dogs accidentally eat the beans and appear unwell, convulsing and vomiting. The lethal dose is two to seven grams of seeds per kilogram. For example, dachshunds are more at risk than Saint Bernards. Dogs have the advantage that they usually throw up immediately and the poison cannot get to the brain. Cats do not have this protection and here an average of two to four grams of seeds per kilogram is enough to be extremely poisonous. Horses, on the other hand, can consume a whopping 250 grams of the seeds, but the effects are also deadly.

Laburnum, Laburnum anagyroides



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