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Larkspur is a popular plant, especially in cottage gardens. Not every species is poisonous, but there are two varieties, Delphinium belladonna and elatum, which are said to be very poisonous. The seeds contained in the fruit in particular should be mentioned here, but all other parts of the plant are also considered to be poisonous. Therefore, the graceful plant should not be cultivated in gardens where there are small children or dogs and cats.

Is delphinium poisonous?

This question can be answered with a clear "yes". In 2015, the popular delphinium was even chosen as the poisonous plant of the year by the special botanical garden in Hamburg-Wandsbeck. This election has been around since 2004 and is intended to draw attention to the dangers posed by plants in your own gardens. The homeowners and hobby gardeners should be sensitized to the plants they cultivate. Especially when children and pets are in the garden, it is important to know which plants are poisonous and which are not. The toxins contained in the species Belladonna and Elatum are similar to those contained in monkshood and are particularly dangerous for small children and animals.

Larkspur 'Atlantis'. Delphinium belladonna hybrid

Toxic components

Each and every species has toxins, but there are varieties that are particularly dangerous as they contain more levels of toxic substances than the others. These include the field and garden larkspur and the high larkspur. Here are mainly those contained in the fruit Seeds highly toxic and dangerous, especially for a small child and pets whose bodies do not weigh that much. However, all other parts of the delphinium are also considered poisonous:

  • high levels of toxic alkaloids
  • here also diterpenoids
  • methyllycaconitine
  • Elatin
  • dolphin
  • lycotonin
  • Ester alkaloids delsolin and delcosine
  • in high concentration in the seeds
  • lower concentration in all other parts

notice: To date, there have been no known signs of poisoning from mere skin contact with delphinium. However, sensitive individuals may develop a rash.

effect of the alkaloids

Above all, the alkaloids mentioned have a paralyzing effect on the nervous system. The ester alkaloids, on the other hand, even have a paralyzing effect on the heart muscle and, in the worst case and in high doses, can trigger central respiratory paralysis. Nevertheless, the seeds, which contain the toxins in higher doses, are used in medicine. Used correctly, the remedies help against parasite infestation, against styes in the eyes, states of exhaustion or itchy eczema. This varies depending on the variety of delphinium. The contained essential oils of delphisin and delphinoidin are usually responsible for a skin rash in sensitive people when touched.

danger to children

Small children up to primary school age in particular are very curious and use whatever plants, blossoms and leaves they can find in the garden to play. They cook, bake and decorate themselves with wreaths of flowers. Therefore Delphinium is particularly dangerous if there is a small child in the garden. Older children from primary school age, on the other hand, can already be explained the dangers of why one or the other plant should not be touched. Therefore, little ones should be kept away from a delphinium for the following reasons:

  • Never put seeds in your mouth
  • swallowing can be very dangerous
  • the fruits can magically attract the curious little ones
  • all other parts should also not be touched

notice: If you have a small child in the family who is also in the garden, then you should avoid cultivating delphiniums altogether and wait until the child is big enough to understand that some plants can be poisonous.

danger to animals

Dogs and cats, which often nibble on plants in the garden, are also at great risk. Especially the young animals when they are puppies nibble on plants of all kinds out of curiosity. Therefore, an animal owner should think about cultivating the poisonous plants in the garden. If the dogs are always under supervision, the delphiniums can be placed behind a fence. It is more difficult to supervise an outdoor cat. If you don't have any animals yourself but live in a neighborhood with free-roaming cats, you should also think about planting. As beautiful and decorative as the plants are, animal life should always be more important and the dangers of an animal roaming around the garden unsupervised are great.

notice: According to expert reports, around ten percent of the symptoms of poisoning in dogs and cats can be traced back to poisonous plants cultivated in the garden or in the house. You can prevent this by avoiding such plants altogether.


If the toxins from the decorative plant have been ingested and swallowed by children or animals, then there are usually symptoms which, depending on the severity, can look like this:

  • numbness and tingling
  • especially on hands and feet
  • on the tongue
  • increased salivation
  • stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • nervousness
  • movement disorders
  • slowed heartbeat
  • slowed breathing

tip: The symptoms of poisoning in animals are similar to those in humans. Therefore, if a child or animal that has previously played in the garden suddenly behaves in a conspicuous manner, you should initiate first aid immediately.

First aid

If a child or even a pet shows the symptoms mentioned above and it could well be a question of plant poisoning, then you should be the first to do so keep Calm. Because if bystanders suddenly become nervous and hectic, this is also passed on to the child or animal. A call to the poison control center is recommended if there is certainty that parts of larkspur have been eaten. Because here the antidotes are known. You should also call the emergency number 112 immediately and without hesitation. Then, until the emergency service arrives, proceed as follows:

  • Check mouth for debris
  • pack up any leftovers
  • show to the attending physician
  • Administer activated charcoal tablets
  • binds toxins in the stomach
  • do not induce vomiting
  • act calmly on the person concerned
  • bring into the stable lateral position
  • possibly store fruits or seeds
  • take to the hospital

tip: If your dog or cat shows signs of poisoning, you should take the animal to the nearest veterinary practice as soon as possible. In some cities there is already an animal emergency hotline where the veterinarian comes to your home, which can be a great advantage, especially on weekends and in the evenings/nights.

Toxicity Sources:

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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