Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

Lupins are very popular because they are undemanding and easy to care for. Previously only seen on farms, they have now also moved into German gardens. They impress with their elegant charm and add color to the garden. However, the perennial, with the botanical name Lupinus, is said to be poisonous. How this is done and how dangerous it actually is for humans and animals can be read in the plant guide.

recognize lupinus

So that you know if you are in front of a lupine and if you should exercise caution because it is poisonous, you should be able to identify the wolf bean, as it is sometimes called.

Optical features

  • Fingered, lanceolate leaves
  • colorful flowers
  • Growth height: up to two meters
  • Green to grey-green foliage, mostly covered with silvery hairs
  • Dense spike or raceme flowers
  • Two-lipped calyx
  • Legumes are formed with smooth or slightly rough seeds
  • Generative Traits
  • Grows primarily in sunny, light, slightly loamy soil
  • Flowering period: between June and August
  • After the flowering period, the seeds develop until early autumn


Are lupins poisonous?

The question can be answered with a "conditionally". There are numerous lupine species that exhibit toxicity while others do not. The latter includes, for example, the sweet lupine. This and all other non-toxic Lupinus species are special breeds. In these, the poison was grown from the original plant by removing the bitter substances it contained. These bitter substances contain the poison. Lupine species of these new breeds are also offered, among other things, for the production of protein-rich food elements. One of the poisonous and most widespread species is the "old" species Lupinus polyphyllos, which has blue or yellow flowers.

Contained Poison

The poisonous lupine contains alkaloids. These are substances that develop naturally. The included acotinine leads to a particularly high risk. This is one of the most dangerous plant toxins. It is a neurotoxin and has, among other things, psychoactive effects. In the worst case, consumption can result in a life-threatening situation that can result in death.

Poisonous parts of plants

The wolf bean is not poisonous on all parts of the plant. The toxin is "only" in the seed as well as the herbaceous Scroll contain. There is no plant toxin in the stems, petals or roots. It is contained in the plant sap and enters the body/organism of humans and animals through consumption or mouth contact.

Dangerous for humans and animals

How dangerous poisonous lupins are depends on several factors. The toxin content varies from species to species. Pest infestation or insects can also temporarily increase the toxin concentration. This is the case because the plant uses the poison to protect itself against predators. If there is a danger from parasites or insects, the poison content increases automatically. The rule of thumb for the level of this is: the more bitter the taste, the more toxin is contained and more dangerous symptoms of poisoning can occur.

poisoning in humans

Should you or your children accidentally put herbaceous leaves or seeds of a poisonous lupine in your mouth, spitting it up immediately is usually a natural reaction. The bitter taste usually triggers the reflex immediately.
However, you can also transfer it into your mouth when you come into contact with the plant sap. Spitting it out is more difficult and often too late, because even then a part remains in the mouth and/or is swallowed. In most cases, however, there are only slight symptoms of poisoning, which can manifest themselves as follows:

  • General restlessness
  • facial pallor
  • sweats
  • Slight tremor
  • Vomit

Serious poisoning

Serious symptoms of poisoning are to be expected if poisonous plant parts have been swallowed. Children in particular are particularly at risk here because their small bodies have not yet developed a robust, strong immune system.
The seeds are the most toxic. Even a fruit with seeds can be life-threatening and lead to death. The first signs are expressed, as already mentioned, and other dangerous reactions of the body can also be caused:

  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • cramps
  • signs of paralysis
  • Apnea
  • cardiac arrest
  • poisoning in animals

poisoning in animals

In principle, wild animals tolerate alkaloids and are not exposed to a health risk by eating lupins. This is different for small and large animals such as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, cows, sheep and birds.

High risk of poisoning

According to the information center against poisoning in Bonn, these animals are much more frequently affected by poisoning reactions, some of which are severe. This is also where most of the deaths occur, because in many cases the eating of lupins is not observed and accordingly no quick countermeasures can be initiated. Especially for grazing animals and pets that have access to the lupinus in the garden without supervision for a longer period of time, the risk of life being threatened is high.
For this reason, you should suspect poisoning if you see the following signs, so that you can ideally react in good time:

  • Increased panting in dogs and cats
  • Horses, cows, sheep, etc. make noises when they breathe
  • Colic is noticeable by rolling around and stepping under the abdomen
  • Increased salivation
  • Accelerated, shallow breathing, which can be recognized by rapid abdominal bulges
  • Decreased pupillary response
  • If paralysis occurs, the animal stays where it is and can no longer be gotten up
  • cardiac arrhythmias

Can lead to death:

  • Shallow breathing with impending apnea after signs of paralysis
  • cardiac arrest

First aid

In any case, if there is a suspicion of mouth contact and especially if poisonous plant parts from the lupine have been swallowed, an (emergency) doctor/veterinarian should be contacted. From this you will learn in detail what you can do as the first effective measure. You should have information ready for the doctor/veterinarian to better assess the health risk. You should be able to answer the following questions as information for the interview, if possible:

  • How long ago was the contact/consumption?
  • What and how much was swallowed?
  • Have the first signs of poisoning appeared?
  • How quickly does the condition of the affected person/animal worsen?
  • Was vomit?

Recommended first steps

In general, you can counteract internal poisoning with charcoal tablets and plenty of water or at least minimize the possible consequences of poisoning.
By drinking a lot of water, the plant toxin is quickly flushed from the stomach into the intestine. There, the charcoal tablets ensure rapid binding. In this way, less toxin gets into the bloodstream and can cause less damage in the human and animal body.

Definitely not milk

In the event of poisoning, no milk should be given, as is often the advice. Milk contains substances that get into the bloodstream quickly and take the toxins with them on their journey. You can therefore accelerate the symptoms of poisoning and make them worse by giving milk.

Remove poisonous plant part

If you have a poisonous plant part in your mouth and have already started swallowing, stop swallowing immediately and carefully remove it with a suitable "tool" such as tweezers. If you have noticed that children or animals are eating, you should also check here whether you can still reach the part of the plant in the upper throat area for removal without any problems.
If the part of the plant is already deeper, only a doctor can remove the poisonous foreign body with the help of certain medical instruments, as long as it has not yet been decomposed by the stomach acid.

Don't force vomiting

It is important that you do not induce vomiting under any circumstances, as this could lead to serious damage to the esophagus and, in the worst case, cause suffocation.

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.

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!