Clematis is known to many people by its biological name Clematis. Regardless of the name used, it convinces as a perennial and above all as a climbing plant with bright flowers and the ability to form a dense green growth when climbing. However, care must be taken when cultivating them. Because you read again and again that the clematis is poisonous. We reveal here whether this is true and who could be affected.

Clematis – Poisonous or not?

Like all buttercup plants, clematis contains the toxin protoanemonin and is therefore clearly classified as poisonous. This applies to the growing plant in the ground as well as the offshoot or bouquet in the vase. Only when the plant dries does the protoanemonin turn into anemonin, which is harmless. However, you should not blindly rely on this either, as complete drying cannot be seen from the outside. It is therefore advisable to always regard clematis as poisonous, regardless of their condition.

Where’s the poison?

The critical alkaloid of clematis is part of the ingredients dissolved in the plant sap. Thus, the question of the toxic components of the plant can be answered with a clear “all”. Since all parts of the living clematis , from the roots to the stems to the leaves and flowers, are permeated and supplied with plant sap, the poison is transported everywhere by the sap and can take effect from there.

The way into the body

The toxin can always have an effect when the plant sap reaches the host, for example through

  • consumption or ingestion
  • Skin contact with leaked juice, e.g. at cutting points, torn leaves, etc.
  • Contact with injured plant skin by kinking, squeezing, etc.

Effect of the protoanemonine

The alkaloid is absorbed through the skin. It is irrelevant whether it is normal skin or a much more sensitive mucous membrane, for example in the mouth, eyes or stomach. If the clematis poison comes into contact with the skin, it is absorbed and can cause the following effects:

  • Inflammation of the immediate point of contact and its surroundings
  • irritation of the respiratory tract
  • Impairment of kidneys and intestines, permanent damage with prolonged contact
  • Difficulty breathing up to respiratory paralysis
  • circulatory problems to a standstill
  • In extreme cases death

Efficacy in humans and animals

Protoanemonin is considered a very non-specific poison and affects humans and animals often associated with humans such as dogs, cats, cattle, horses and other livestock alike. Even birds are affected.

The effects are basically always the same, whereby adult humans and animals are likely to be affected primarily through skin contact with the clematis. There is usually no danger of consumption here due to the strongly bitter taste. Small children and young animals, on the other hand, tend not to spit out the plant even if it exudes its typical taste, which actually signals inedibility.

The first symptoms can appear even if small amounts of a leaf or flower are taken orally. In the case of unconscious skin contact, on the other hand, the consequences may be annoying or painful, but rarely actually critical.

First aid in case of poisoning

If an animal has eaten a piece of clematis and is showing signs of behavior change, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

If, on the other hand, people, whether adults or small children, show signs of poisoning by clematis, the first thing to do is to call the poison control center. Subsequently, inducing vomiting can help prevent further toxin absorption into the body from the ingested plant parts. All further steps of the detoxification are then to be carried out by an emergency doctor or the post-care agencies.

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