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Many people wonder if the yucca palm is poisonous. 'Jein' is the most appropriate answer. This article explains what can make the noble plant dangerous under certain circumstances.


Experts do not (yet) agree on the toxicity of the yucca palm (which, by the way, is actually not a palm at all, but an agave plant). To date, it has neither been explicitly confirmed that the plant has a toxic effect, nor has it been given a clear all-clear. However, anyone who lives with children or pets can assume that the beautiful yucca is associated with certain risks and dangers for the loved ones.

Is the yucca palm poisonous?

This question cannot be answered unequivocally at the present time. So far there have been too few scientific studies or reliable findings on the effects of the components in the plant. So it is not surprising that the opinions on the subject sometimes differ greatly.


From the botanist, toxicologist or veterinarian to the pet owner, gardener or parent, very different views are represented. Some say the yucca palm is not poisonous. Others, on the other hand, expressly advise against keeping the plant in a household with small children or animals.

Tip: In general, the yucca palm is considered non-toxic. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with her. Both internal and external properties of the plant have the potential to cause harm to humans and animals.

  • saponins
  • sharp-edged leaves


Saponins as critical ingredients

Saponins are essential components of the yucca palm (in the trunk and in the leaves). They belong to the secondary plant substances. Specifically, this is a group of the so-called glycosides. The main characteristic of the same: If they are shaken in an aqueous solution, they form a foam.

Responsible for this is the composition:

  • a lipophilic and
  • a hydrophilic part

This means:

One part of the saponin molecule is fat-soluble (lipophilic), the other water-soluble (hydrophilic). You can imagine the effect as with a soap. This is also underpinned by the name - Sapo is the Latin term for soap. Saponins usually taste bitter.

It is assumed that saponins in the yucca palm (and other plants) serve as so-called defensive substances. In other words, they should protect the crop from diseases. According to studies, the substances have an antifungal (against fungi) and antimicrobial (inhibit bacteria) effect.

toxic effect

But what really matters is that in relation to mammals (which, as is well known, includes humans), saponins are considered to be both harmful and beneficial at the same time.

(Possible) advantages:

  • are antibiotic and immune-stimulating
  • help fight fungal infestation
  • partially lower cholesterol levels
  • work against tooth decay and lead poisoning

(Possible) disadvantages:

  • sometimes severely irritate the mucous membranes
  • can cause inflammation
  • partially weaken the immune system
  • lead to intestinal problems and diarrhea
  • sometimes break down red blood cells
  • can cause serious kidney damage

Tip: The potential damage caused by saponins is the most important reason why the yucca palm is repeatedly classified as poisonous or dangerous.

As with all critical substances, it is also the case with saponins that poisoning and symptoms only (can) occur above a certain consumption level. Precise information on this is not available. But it is safe to say that the tolerance of small children and pets is significantly lower than that of adult humans.

In short:

In babies, children, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, etc., minimal amounts are often sufficient to cause symptoms. However, serious illnesses or serious consequences are rare.

Typical symptoms of poisoning in animals:

  • salivation
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • apathy

Anyone who notices these or other strange behaviors in their pet and has a yucca palm tree at home should consult a veterinarian quickly and mention the plant when talking to the doctor. This may speed up diagnosis and treatment.

Important: The yucca palm is an ornamental plant and NOT suitable for consumption. Touching the plant is not a problem. You just shouldn't ingest its components.

risk of injury

Sharp-edged leaves pose a risk of injury

There is a second point that is crucial to the fact that the yucca palm is not considered completely harmless: the sharp-edged leaves can cause minor to severe injuries if you act carelessly when handling them. Cuts on the hands or on the face, for example in the mouth or snout, are possible consequences.


Details on the issues related to babies and children

The immune system of babies and young children is not yet fully developed. Therefore, the adolescents can counteract potentially harmful substances little or nothing. There is therefore a risk that saponins will quickly lead to symptoms such as gastrointestinal complaints.

It follows:

It is best to avoid yucca palms in your own home if you have babies and/or small children living in the household. If you still don't want to do without the beautiful plants, you should place the plants in such a way that the kids can't get to them. It is also important to always keep an eye on the offspring when they are in the room with the yucca palms.

Tip: The risk of damage relates both to careless chewing on the components of the plant and to uncontrolled movements with the hands, which can result in bloody wounds.


Details on the issue related to pets

In the wild, cats and dogs rarely eat plants that are poisonous to them. Instinct tells them what to keep their paws off of.

The situation is different with "real" pets: they are almost forced to deal with the things that are around them. And since house cats and furry friends are in no way inferior to small children (and also some adults) when it comes to curiosity, it can definitely happen that they play with house or garden plants from time to time, i.e. chew or scratch them.

Possible consequences of the dangerous play instinct:

  • Poisoning with gastrointestinal complaints
  • unpleasant inflammation (saponins)
  • Mouth sores (from chewing the leaves)
  • Injuries to the paws or face (injuries to the face can then come to light when, for example, a cat intensively caresses the sharp-edged leaves of the yucca palm)

It is therefore also advisable for people who keep pets to avoid yucca palms or to set them up out of reach. But that is hardly achievable, especially with cats and dogs, which can be very agile and inventive.


Some veterinarians advise cat owners to consciously bring their kitties into contact with houseplants. The robust trunk of the yucca palm offers cats the best conditions for scratching extensively and sharpening their nails.

Every owner must know for himself whether he wants to take the risk or can guarantee that he always has an eye on the pet when it is playing with the palm tree. For the safety of the four-legged friend, however, it is advisable to use other scratching options (e.g. a scratching post) - especially since mum and dad probably don't like it when the beautiful plant is ruined.

Quick Reader Tips

  • In principle, yucca palms are neither poisonous nor harmless
  • Plant contains potentially harmful saponins
  • Absolutely avoid consumption of all ingredients
  • Beware of the sharp-edged leaves of the plant
  • Risk of poisoning and injury to children/animals
  • then better do without yucca palms at home
  • otherwise keep an eye on children/animals


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