Attention! All parts of the delphinium are highly poisonous

Attention! All parts of the delphinium are highly poisonous

Poisonous Plant of the Year 2015

Since 2004, the special botanical garden in Hamburg-Wandsbek has been voting for the “poisonous plant of the year” every year, in order to draw attention to the danger posed by poisonous plants in domestic gardens. In 2015 the delphinium was given the title because its toxins, which are very similar to the blue monkshood, are particularly dangerous to children and animals.

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Larkspur is a particular danger to children and animals

Especially the garden or field barnacle spur (Consolida ajacis) and the tall delphinium (Delphinium elatum) contain high levels of poisonous alkaloids, especially diterpenoids (especially methyllycaconitine). These are mostly contained in the seeds, but also in all other parts of the plant. Mere skin contact usually has no effects, only very sensitive people can develop skin rashes. Children and animals should be kept away from larkspurs and must never eat or swallow parts of the plant - especially the fruit with the seeds.

Used as a medicine in ancient times

Above all, the field and field knight spurs, which used to be very common, were used as medicinal plants (e.g. against stomach cramps) in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period. Delphinium staphisagria, the “Sharp Larkspur”, is still used in homeopathy today. However, the actual healing power of the plant has not yet been proven, but its toxicity is all the better proven.

Effects of poisoning

Larkspur poisoning shows, depending on the severity, numbness of the tongue and limbs, tingling of the hands and feet and skin rashes up to stomach cramps with vomiting and diarrhea. Movement disorders and nervousness are also typical. The toxins can attack the muscles, especially the heart muscles, and cause a slower heart and respiratory rate.

Tips & Tricks

If possible, wear gloves when cutting the delphinium to protect yourself from the poisonous sap.