According to their name, lilies of the valley usually bloom in May. However, the flowers are poisonous – confusion therefore often leads to hospital stays.
Kassel – Once the cold season is over, many flowers in Germany begin to bloom. The lily of the valley also shows its splendor as it approaches the middle of the year. However, the spring bloomer is poisonous and is often mistaken for another plant.
Poisonous flowers: are lilies of the valley really dangerous?
Lilies of the valley can be recognized by their white bluebells. Unsuspecting herbalists keep poisoning themselves with the innocent-looking flowers. In 2014, lilies of the valley were even named poisonous plant of the year. The plant is poisonous in all parts – it contains toxic glycosides. The highest concentrations of toxins are contained in the flowers, leaves and berries. Contrary to a misconception, the toxic ingredients are not completely neutralized by drying the plant.
Lilies of the valley are poisonous and can be extremely dangerous to humans. © Gottfried Czepluch/Imago
The Information Centre against Poisoning classifies the lily of the valley as low-toxic to poisonous. Anyone who comes into contact with the plant can detect allergic reactions on the skin. Those who consume parts of the plant, on the other hand, must expect worse symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, up to pulse slowing and cardiac arrhythmias can occur depending on the amount of consumption. In the worst case, these reactions of the body to the poisoning can even lead to death.
Lilies of the valley are often confused with wild garlic – with fatal consequences
That lilies of the valley should not be consumed, most people know. More often, however, there is confusion with the popular wild garlic, also called the "wild garlic". The wild garlic season usually starts in March. "Although the garlic-like smell is a typical feature of wild garlic, the plant is often confused with the poisonous lily of the valley or the autumn crocus," says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
These symptoms may occur after eating lily of the valley:
- Chest tightness
- Pulse slowing
The flowers of wild garlic do not look like those of lilies of the valley, but the young leaves are very similar. According to the BfR, confusion with autumn crocus is also anything but atypical. After eating this very poisonous plant, multiple organ failure often occurs only a few days later.
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When collecting wild garlic, the leaves should be rubbed between the fingers, which will develop the typical garlic smell. However, guaranteed safety cannot be guaranteed by this test.