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It is not for nothing that the robinia, or false acacia, is nicknamed silver rain. With its decorative, hanging umbels of flowers, it is the eye-catcher in numerous parks and private gardens. But be careful, because the robinia is generally classified as poisonous. How toxic it actually is for humans and animals is explained below.

Is the robinia poisonous?

The general concept of toxicity is commonly used for many plants. A wide range of aspects can be hidden behind this term, which can range from pure intolerance, for example for the human or animal digestive tract, to allergic reactions of particularly sensitive people, to a real toxic content, which sometimes has damaging or even fatal effects can.

For the robinia, the term "poisonous“ pull up. Because it verifiably contains considerable amounts of toxic proteins, so-called toxalbumins, as well as lectins, such as robin. From a biological point of view, they are real toxins, the consequences of which doctors will clearly classify as poisoning.

Poisonous parts of plants

One often reads that all components of the acacia contain toxalbumins. This is only partially true, because the conspicuous inflorescences in particular are non-toxic and therefore not to be classified as critical in this context. All other components, i.e. wood, bark, plant sap, leaves and seeds, contain more or less of these critical substances. They are particularly concentrated in the bark and seeds.

How does the poison get into the body?

The toxic substances of Robinia Pseudoacacia find access to the organism in a variety of ways in order to develop their harmful effects there:

  • By swallowing or eating
  • Via mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and eyes
  • Through intensive skin contact, especially through the smallest skin injuries
  • BUT: Poisoning through short-term skin contact or after washing off plant sap from the skin is normally not possible
Robinia pseudoacacia, black locust

risk groups

The robinia can rightly be described as poisonous. Because their harmful effect affects both humans and animals.


In humans, as in most cases of adverse effects, toxalbumins primarily affect children and the elderly. Because their organisms are weaker than those of adults and therefore suffer from the impairments to a particular extent.

danger: Children in particular are the focus of attention when it comes to the poison of the robinia. This is because they tend to put small twigs, leaves or seeds in their mouths and thus actively ingest the poison. This fact is particularly critical, since the flowers of the plant and to a lesser extent also the wood exude a lovely sweet smell!


Rather unusual for plants classified as poisonous is the fact that the toxins of the black locust affect both birds and mammals and are therefore very universally effective. How strong the poison is is shown by the fact that not only popular pets such as dogs and cats suffer from it. Even large livestock, such as cattle or horses, can be seriously affected by the effects, in rare cases even fatal.


But now let's look at how the poisonous black locust affects human and animal organisms. The phenomena that occur are always the same, regardless of whether they are children, adults, pets such as dogs or cats, or livestock:

Common Effects:

  • Increased salivation
  • urge to urinate
  • Increased heart rate
  • nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • stomach cramps
  • Vomit
  • Initially excitement, as the poisoning progressed, apathy

In addition, at high doses:

  • Stomach and intestinal inflammation
  • Yellow discoloration of the mucous membranes
  • Muscle spasms and spasmodic twitching
  • disturbance of the sense of balance
  • Damage to the liver and kidneys
  • going blind
  • Death (in small animals, such as dogs or cats, and infants)

The difference between humans and animals lies primarily in the amount of poison required before the symptoms of poisoning appear. The speed at which symptoms develop also depends on the amount of poison in relation to the poisoned organism.

First and foremost, the body size and mass of the poisoned creature are decisive for the intensity and speed. An exact critical amount for life-threatening conditions has not been studied in detail and is therefore not clearly defined. However, the literature repeatedly states a quantity of around five seeds, or a comparable quantity of wood, as the quantity for causing the poisoning symptoms described. Children and smaller pets, on the other hand, are likely to suffer from the ingestion of even smaller amounts.

First aid

As soon as the described signs of poisoning by the robinia are recognized, countermeasures should be initiated immediately. The first aid looks like this:

  • drink plenty of fluids to flush poison out of the body through increased fluid exchange.
  • Induce vomiting if known to eat wood, seeds or leaves
  • Visit Art, alert an emergency doctor in the case of intensive symptoms

If a doctor removes the poison after immediate measures have been taken, this is usually done by administering activated charcoal and monitoring the bodily functions in order to identify any increasing effects at an early stage and to ensure bodily functions.

danger: Since the first signs of poisoning are rather unspecific and cannot be assigned exactly, the first aid described should be taken even if poisoning by the silver rain is suspected. Since the measures do not pose any danger, early action counts far more than a possibly premature or unnecessary reaction.

notice: Please note that this article is by no means a substitute for a doctor's visit. There is no guarantee of the correctness of medical statements.
Detailed information on first aid in the event of poisoning and important information on the poison control centers can be found here.

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