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Hydrangeas (Hydrangea) are upright growing, deciduous flowering shrubs. Hydrangea plants are very diverse, their flowers can be white, red, blue, pink or yellow in color. As an ornamental plant, they can be placed both in the house and in the garden. The rumor that hydrangeas are poisonous persists. Basically, the hydrangea is only slightly toxic. But - parts of the plant, especially the flowers and leaves, contain hydrocyanic acid glycosides and therefore pose certain risks. Find out how to protect yourself, your children and pets in the following article.


Hydrangea toxins

Hydrangea plants contain various toxins, but only in low concentrations. In addition to hydrocyanic acid, hydrangeas contain hydrangin, hydrangenol and saponins. Whether and to what extent certain parts of the plant are toxic always depends on the type and amount of consumption.

hydrogen cyanide

The hydrocyanic acid contained in the hydrangea is in all parts of the plant, not just in the leaves and flowers. Hydrocyanic acid destroys the red blood cells so that no more oxygen can be transported. However, this is only the case if it is ingested in high amounts. High doses can lead to suffocation and convulsions, and in the worst case, unconsciousness or death from heart failure. In general, the concentration in the leaves and flowers is highest. Accidental consumption, however, poses only minor risks, because the content is so low that no dangerous symptoms are to be expected as a rule.


hydrangin, hydrangenol and saponins

Hydrangin, hydrangenol and saponins are plant toxins that can lead to dizziness and anxiety when consumed in large amounts. Sensitive people have an allergic reaction as soon as they come into contact with it. If there is a contact allergy, hydrangeas should be avoided. The leaves and flower buds of the hydrangea contain a particularly large number of toxins. If you have children, make sure that these parts of the plant are not swallowed. However, since the leaves and flowers taste bitter when chewed, children are at relatively little risk of eating large, unsafe amounts. Should it nevertheless come to accidental, excessive consumption, ask your child immediately how he is feeling and contact a doctor if symptoms suddenly arise.

The following symptoms indicate poisoning or an allergic reaction:

  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • circulatory problems
  • shortness of breath
  • cramps

Tip: Since hydrangeas are very colorful and pretty to look at, children could of course still get the idea of tasting the flowers or leaves. Always inform your children in advance not to snack on the plant. If you have a lot of hydrangeas in your house or garden, keep an especially close eye on small children.


The hydrangea as a drug

For the people

Because the leaves and flowers of the hydrangea are said to have an intoxicating effect, some people dry and smoke them. Consequently, they serve as a cannabis substitute, but their psychoactive effect has not been scientifically proven. According to scientific studies, the intoxicating effect can only be attributed to the placebo effect or to cell poisoning. The fact is, however, that certain active ingredients and toxins are released when smoking. As a result, smoking hydrangeas can actually lead to poisoning, because the highly toxic hydrocyanic acid is released to a large extent when it is burned. Experts recommend not daring any experiments in this regard, because the hydrogen cyanide concentration can vary from plant to plant and is difficult to control.


How Toxic Are Hydrangeas To Animals?

For animals

Hydrangeas are considered (slightly) toxic to horses, dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. The toxins contained in the hydrangea can cause circulatory problems in these animals, but also gastrointestinal problems. However, due to the low concentration, serious symptoms of poisoning only occur if consumed in large quantities. Dogs in particular are usually only at low risk. If your dog has eaten the hydrangea, there is usually no risk of serious poisoning. There are no known deaths in dogs caused by eating hydrangeas. In addition, the rather bitter taste naturally deters most animals. If one of your pets has nibbled on the plant, it is still advisable to consult a vet as a precaution.

Tip: If you have a dog, please always make sure that you only use branches of non-toxic plants when playing with sticks. Not only the hydrangea, but also other ornamental plants contain active substances that could be toxic to your dog. These active ingredients or toxins can be released when chewing and thus get into the digestive tract. If in doubt, get information from the information center against poisoning.


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