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Due to its large, eye-catching and fragrant flowers, the magnolia tree is often used as an ornamental tree in the garden or front yard. However, the question often arises: “Are magnolias actually poisonous?” In general, however, it can be said that renouncing this beauty is not absolutely necessary. Although the plant is considered slightly poisonous for humans, it is still harmless.


Alkaloid magnoflorin slightly toxic effect

Various active ingredients are contained in the plant parts of the magnolia. Mainly there are:

  • the two compounds Honokiol and Magnolol
  • essential oils and
  • Alkaloids, for example magnoflorin

It is this alkaloid that is responsible for the slightly toxic effect of magnolias. It occurs primarily in the bark and wood. On the other hand, the essential oils are mainly found in the buds and leaves. It is also worth mentioning here that the hybrids bred are generally more poisonous than the traditional species from China and East Asia, which have been bred there for thousands of years.

For the people

Harmless to humans

As a rule, the magnolia tree is harmless to adults and children. In order to ingest the slightly toxic alkaloid magnoflorin, the wood or bark of the tree would have to be eaten or at least nibbled on. As a rule, however, this should hardly happen, especially since both are also inedible. The flowers and leaves of the imposing plant, on the other hand, do not pose any danger.

tip: Nevertheless, gloves should be worn for all cutting and care work to prevent the toxic agent from penetrating the skin or mucous membranes. Particularly sensitive people should pay attention to this.

For animals

Be careful with dogs and cats

Even if magnolias do not pose a life-threatening hazard to humans, problems can still arise in dogs and cats. Since both pets like to nibble on everything, health problems could occur under certain circumstances. However, these will not necessarily be fatal. On the other hand, there is a greater risk for rodents such as rabbits or hares, since they like to nibble on the bark of trees. Leaves and flowers are generally harmless, as they mainly contain essential oils and only a very, very small proportion of the toxic alkaloid.

So that the existing magnolia or new planting that is planned does not necessarily have to be banned from the garden, one can be used as an alternative to protect dogs, cats and rodents and of course also to protect the wood from being bitten tree cuff find use. This is open on one side and adapts to the circumference of the tree. This can grow unhindered.

signs of intoxication

With all caution, however, contact with the toxin magnoflorin can still occasionally occur. Any changes should then be noted. Depending on the amount of poison ingested, poisoning can manifest itself as follows:

  • Burning of the mucous membranes of the mouth
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
  • diarrhea
  • Vomit
  • cramps
  • circulatory problems in severe cases
  • occasional fever
  • Irritation and blistering of the skin

In any case, you should go to the doctor or veterinarian at the first sign. He will then take all measures to alleviate the symptoms.

Healing effect

Bark and flowers in folk medicine

In folk medicine, the effects of the substances honokiol and magnolol are particularly useful. These work

  • antiviral
  • calming
  • antioxidant
  • hypotensive
  • muscle relaxant and
  • anti-inflammatory

Magnolia extracts from the bark have a good effect in the treatment of asthma and also in menopause symptoms. These counteract anxiety, irritability, insomnia and depressive moods.

tip: Magnolia extracts should not be used during pregnancy.

The healing effect has been known for thousands of years

The bark and flower buds of the magnolia tree were used as a remedy in traditional Chinese medicine more than 2000 years ago. Mainly the bark of the Magnolia officinalis is used. It is the raw material for sedatives and is also used for loss of appetite, gastric bloating and coughing because of its expectorant and calming effect. Extracts from the flower buds are also used for colds, sinus infections and headaches.

Native Americans also valued the healing properties of the bark of the evergreen magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). This was used in intermittent fever.


Flowers are a delicacy

Even in ancient China, during the imperial period, the empress appreciated flower petals baked in crispy batter. Even in today's kitchen are deep-fried in batter for gourmets magnolia blossoms a delicacy for dessert. Due to their intense fragrance, flowers can also be used to make liqueurs, wines and tea. You need dried petals for this. They are commercially available, but not as common. Alternatively, you can also dry yourself if a magnolia tree grows in your own garden. This is possible in just a few steps:

  • Remove petals from pistil
  • remove white tips with scissors
  • Drying in the oven at 50 °C
  • Place petals on a grid
  • open the oven door during the drying process
  • The color of the leaves changes, but the scent remains
  • Store in airtight containers in a dark and cool place

tip: Petals of the magnolia species "Magnolia cylindrica" and "Magnolia hedyosperma" are mainly used here.

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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