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Almost everyone has heard the sentence that rowan berries - also known as mountain ash - are highly toxic. It is mostly small children who are urgently warned by their mothers and fathers. But is this a myth or is the plant actually highly toxic? And how is it then that there is even rowanberry jam?

rowan tree

Portrait of the rowan tree

Rowan trees can be found all over Europe, very often they stand on roadsides or line avenues. The trees are cultivated in North America. Since there are only low demands on the soil, the plants, which are up to 15 meters high, thrive for many years without any problems. The tree can be recognized by its light gray bark on the trunk, which cracks with age but appears smooth and shiny when young.


Rowanberry as a poisonous plant - which parts are dangerous?

It is actually true that the mountain ash - as rowan berries are also called - is poisonous to a large extent. Affected are the fruits, which can lead to severe gastrointestinal problems when unripe. Nevertheless, the rowan tree is considered to be slightly poisonous. The danger only comes from unripe fruits, as they contain a higher level of parasorbic acid. Due to this ingredient, the fruit tastes very bitter, so animals such as cats usually do not consume large amounts. The situation is different with the leaves, which contain no bitter substances

Tip: All parts of the tree are non-toxic except for the foliage. In large quantities, this can lead to the formation of hydrocyanic acid in the body.

For pets

How toxic are rowanberries to cats and dogs?

Cats are pleasure animals, they usually don't eat anything they don't like. The risk of a cat eating rowan berries in large quantities is low because the berries are very bitter. But the foliage is not usually despised by the house tiger and there is little toxicity here. There are no life-threatening consequences when consumed, but there is a risk of an effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

The danger is that there is hydrocyanic acid in damaged leaves or it is formed in the stomach. Hydrocyanic acid attacks the gastrointestinal mucosa and can lead to the following symptoms.

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • in high doses colic

What to do if eaten?

What to do if the pet ate rowan berries?

As a rule, the rowan berries or the foliage of the tree hardly harm the animals. If there are symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract, symptomatic treatment is sufficient. This consists of relieving vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Veterinary supervision may only be necessary if very large amounts of the leaves have been consumed. The Poison Control Center has important information for pet owners.

For children

How toxic is rowan berry to children?

The organism of a child is usually more sensitive than that of an adult. Accordingly, symptoms of poisoning in children appear faster and often have stronger symptoms. Large quantities of unripe rowanberries can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. As with cats and dogs, affected people also suffer.

  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • Stomach and intestinal cramps

What to do if eaten?

If a child accidentally ingested unripe rowanberries, the pediatrician or the medical on-call service should be contacted to be on the safe side. Even in small amounts, symptoms can be quickly relieved with appropriate medication. The poison control center is also a good contact.

The consumption of cooked rowanberries is of course not an emergency, larger amounts can also be consumed here without causing overreactions.


The rowanberry for consumption

Very few people know that rowan berries are not only low in toxicity, but are also edible. However, this only applies to the cooked state, raw there is a risk of poisoning. The parasorbic acid, which causes the intolerance, is destroyed by the cooking process and is no longer harmful. The fruits are suitable for making jelly, jam or chutney, their taste is reminiscent of cranberries and they are often served with game dishes.

However, rowanberries not only make an extremely tasty jelly, they are also healthy. The berries contain large amounts of vitamin C, which is why they were considered a cure for scurvy in the past. However, not only the rowan berries themselves are used, but also the foliage and flowers. This is brewed as a tea in naturopathy and used against various ailments. The tea made from rowanberry leaves is often used for bronchitis or colds. However, there is no scientific evidence of its effectiveness.


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