Are snowdrops poisonous? You should know that!

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The regular media coverage of poisonous plants sensitises hobby gardeners to their own ornamental and useful plants. This is especially true when children and pets frolic in the garden, on the balcony or in the house. Who gives up the slightest suspicion on the cultivation of a plant, can escape so many flower magic. Given the significant differences in toxin content, adequate management may reduce or eliminate potential hazards. Do not ask yourself any longer: are snowdrops poisonous? You should know that!
Slightly toxic by alkaloids
As a genus of plants count snowdrops to the family of Amaryllisgewächse. This circumstance implies that there are various alkaloids in the plant sap. Alkaloids are more than 10,000 naturally occurring organic compounds. The broad definition also includes known substances, such as caffeine in coffee plants, capsaicin in pepper plants, morphine in opium poppy plants or the autumnal seasoning alkaloid colchicine. It follows that the sole presence of an alkaloid does not necessarily mean life-threatening toxicity. However, the vast majority of these compounds are more or less toxic. In terms of the poison content of snowdrops, the relationship is as follows:
  • In the flower bulbs is slightly toxic Amaryllidacene alkaloid
  • Leaves and flowers mainly contain lycorin, tazettin and galantamine
The highest concentration of alkaloids is found in the onions, while it is barely detectable in the above-ground parts of plants.
Affected people and animals
Snowdrops have toxic effects only after consumption. Just sniffing it does not cause any negative consequences. This applies to both humans and animals, especially small pets, such as dogs, cats and rodents. This is how the symptoms of poisoning are expressed:
  • Increased salivation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • sweats
  • dizziness
A critical dose has not yet been determined by scientists. Experience has shown that eating more than 3 snowdrop bulbs can cause the aforementioned symptoms. If a significantly larger amount of snowdrop plant parts is consumed, it can lead to paralysis in the worst case.
First aid measures


After a deliberate or unintentional consumption of up to 3 flower bulbs, the poison center Bonn recommends a sufficient administration of liquid, such as non-carbonated water or tea. If more leaves and flowers were taken, the family doctor should be consulted. This decides whether the gift of a coal preparation is sufficient or whether a detoxification in the clinic is required.
In the case of an affected toddler, the consultation of the responsible pediatrician is recommended in any case, especially if the amount consumed is not precisely understood.
If the symptoms of snowdrop poisoning on the pet show a pronounced extent, at least telephone contact with the veterinarian should be made to advise on the further course of action.
Tip: The lilies of the valley, which are at first glance like snowdrops, are much more poisonous. Therefore, lilies of the valley were added in 2014 Poisonous plant of the year while Snowdrops are not even close to a nomination.
Location and distribution
Snowdrops are native throughout Europe, in Asia Minor to the Caspian Sea. Since they are prone to sedition, they colonize large and small clearings in deciduous forests outside the gardens, thrive along the slopes along the wayside or on forest meadows. In the bed, the early flowering plants are preferably planted in partially shaded locations under tall trees.
If snowdrops appear in your garden without you knowingly planting them, busy ants will be responsible for the flowering florets. The insects are very wild on the seeds, because it adheres to a tasty nutrient body. On the way to the nest, the ants are already eliminating some of the nutrients, leaving the seeds carelessly, and in no time, a young snowdrop thrives.
To unambiguously identify a snowdrop, the following attributes are important:
  • Two to three basal, linear leaves form the basis
  • At the 2 to 30 centimeters high stems a flower appears
  • It unfolds 3 white bracts outside and 3 smaller, green-white petals inside
  • The spherical, 1 to 2 centimeters thick onion serves as a persistence organ
The flowering period extends from February to April. Some rare species bloom into May.Therefore, the flowering time can collide with the more poisonous lily of the valley.
Tips for handling
If there are no children or pets in the garden or on the balcony, there is no danger from snowdrops despite their slight toxicity. In all other cases, the pretty spring flowers do not necessarily have to be dispensed with if the following precautions are taken:
Put onions in the wire basket
To put flower bulbs in a wire basket does not just protect you from being bitten by pests, such as voles. This measure keeps curious digging dogs or cats from poisoning themselves with the nodules. How to do it right:
  • At planting time in September, dig small planting holes with a depth of 15 centimeters
  • Position a wire basket in each pit with the lid open
  • At the sole a sand layer spread of 2-3 centimeters
  • Fill in the excavation and plant the snowdrop bulbs 7-8 cm deep
  • Close the wire mesh lid tightly and cover with soil


If a wire basket is used exclusively for protection against vole mice, a cover can be dispensed with, because the pests do not dare to reach the surface. If the mesh acts as protection against digging domestic animals at the same time, the tight-knit lid becomes more relevant. At least to the flower bulb with the concentrated poison content your four-legged friend does not approach. Knowledge-thirsty children on expedition through the garden, however, are only partially prevented from eating by this provision.
Clippings in the trash
After flowering, the onion infuses all above-ground parts of the plant to assimilate their nutrients. When the withered leaves and flowers disturb snowdrops, they cut off. Disposal of compost should be avoided if pets, grazing livestock or horses could become involved. In this case, the clippings move into the trash. This should also be done if unwanted specimens and the onion have been pulled out of the ground.
The same applies to snowdrops that decorated the home in the vase, as a arrangement or in the planter and are now withered. As the stems deliver toxins to the flower water, vases should be placed out of reach of children and pets.
Tip: The cultivation of snowdrops in the house is completely dispensed with, if toddlers stay here unattended, even for a short time. Too big is the risk that a flower bulb will be eaten. These concerns also apply to domestic cats and puppies.
Promising healing powers
The positive side of the coin should not go unmentioned in this context. The dominant in snowdrop alkaloid galantamine requires in the garden, although the precautions shown, but holds the hopeful healing power against a scourge of mankind. Since the mid-1950s, researchers have known the inhibitory effect on Alzheimer's. Thus, the alkaloid at least delays the progression of dementia by eliminating a defect in the neurotransmitters. The Little Snowdrop and the Caucasian Snowdrop provide primarily galantamine in the desired composition. Research on snowdrops is far from complete in this respect and gives reason to hope for further progress.
In addition, the ingredients of snowdrops in the Bach flower therapy enjoy a large following. So is attributed to her flower essence, to strengthen the hope for a new beginning and to accept the transience easier.
The question: 'Are snowdrops poisonous?' definitely has its permission. The alkaloids contained in the vegetable juice, however, make it only a question of consumption of more than 3 flower bulbs of concern. Consequently, the precautions described here should be taken if small children or pets could be near snowdrops without being under supervision. In addition, the clippings on the compost have lost nothing when grazing livestock or horses get there. Otherwise there is no reason to settle the charming early bloomers in the garden and on the balcony, so that they announce their approaching spring with their white flower florets.

Video Board: Snowdrops.

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