Lilacs are popular in the local gardens and have become an integral part of them. But the tree or shrub is poisonous in different parts and therefore caution is always advised if there are small children or animals running freely in the household. The ingredients are mainly essential oils, which are responsible for the pleasant scent of the lilac. However, these can trigger reactions and symptoms of varying strength when touched or even consumed. But there are also poisonous substances in some parts of the lilac.

Different ingredients

Not just a single substance in the lilac can cause symptoms when the bush is touched or even when consumed. It contains many different ingredients, all of which have more or less effects. Leaves, shoots, bark and berries are considered to be slightly poisonous. However, an adult would have to eat a large amount in order to experience symptoms and consequences. However, this is not the case with children and pets.

Essential oils

The essential oils contained in lilac are not really poisonous, but they can be very irritating to sensitive people and animals when inhaled. These oils can even cause an allergic reaction to the touch. The following symptoms can arise from the essential oils:

  • Mucous membranes, eyes and respiratory tract irritated
  • allergic reactions on the skin
  • up to an allergic shock

It is therefore important that allergy sufferers stay away from the lilac tree, do not stand in the vicinity and under no circumstances should touch it. If an allergic reaction has occurred or an allergic shock has occurred, a doctor should be consulted immediately or, if necessary, the emergency number should be dialed.

Tip: If you are allergic to fragrances, you must also be careful with lilacs. Because the essential oils released can cause headaches as well as breathing difficulties.


Alpha-pinene is also an ingredient in the essential oils in lilac. In order to trigger the effect of the nerve or kidney damage caused by the alpha pinene, a particularly large amount is necessary, which is not contained in the lilac. The mild symptoms are mainly:

  • reddened and irritated eyes
  • irritated mucous membranes
  • irritated airways


Anisaldehyde is actually a flavor compound, but it is also slightly toxic. The substance occurs mainly in the released essential oils of the lilac. The substance is contained in:

  • Lilac flowers
  • Anis
  • fennel


Sambunigrin is a very dangerous substance in lilac. Because this is a glycoside also found in hydrogen cyanide. Hydrocyanic acid can also be released when it is consumed, but only occurs in very small quantities and is therefore usually not fatal if consumed. So special care is required with the following parts of the plant:

  • all green parts of the plant
  • Berry
  • Together


Syringin is a plant substance that occurs mainly in the bark, but also in other green parts. This is responsible for the bitter taste in parts of the plant. The plant actually has this substance to scare off any predators.

Effect on children

Especially when small children up to primary school age live in the household, the lilac in the garden can be dangerous. Older children can already be explained which plants in the garden are poisonous, and they also have a strong sense of taste. In the case of small children, however, a ban often does not help and the taste buds are not trained enough to recognize bitter substances immediately. Therefore, the little ones are particularly at risk when playing in the garden. Therefore, if a child has ingested parts of lilac, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Stomach and intestinal discomfort
  • diarrhea
  • Vomit
Tip: Consuming lilac blossoms shows fewer symptoms than other parts of the plant. But stronger effects can occur especially after the ingestion of seeds and berries.

Effect on animals

Small animals can react to the toxic substances with strong symptoms, especially when they nibble on them. Free-roaming rodents and cats are particularly at risk. Cats in particular are very curious and like to chew on shoots and leaves. An enclosure for rodents should also not be in direct proximity to the lilac tree. Dogs, on the other hand, are usually not interested in plants, but they are interested in sticks lying around. Therefore, as a precaution, no lilac remains should be lying on the meadow. If animals have ingested parts of the lilac plant, the following symptoms can occur:

  • diarrhea
  • Vomit
  • profuse salivation
  • Circulatory problems

In the case of small pets, even small amounts are sufficient to cause poisoning. However, since the parts of the plant, like many other poisonous plants, contain a lot of bitter substances, most animals refrain from lilacs after a brief attempt at gnawing.

First aid

First aid is actually the same for children and animals. Water should be given immediately. However, vomiting should not be induced. Above all, it is important that all bystanders remain calm so that the child or the animal does not become even more agitated. So the person concerned should also be talked to calmly. Mothers in particular tend to panic if the child may have poisoned themselves, so this should also be reassured. In any case, you can dial the emergency number for a child and call an emergency doctor. With animals, the nearest veterinarian or the veterinary clinic should be visited directly.

Tip: If you suspect poisoning, you should never shy away from dialing the emergency number. The poison control center is also a good first point of contact because the antidotes for the respective poisons are known here.

Edible lilac blossoms?

Lilac flowers are considered edible. However, caution is also required here. Because in the raw state, for example as a decoration on a salad, the pretty flowers should not be used. Candied lilac blossoms are also not recommended for consumption. So the flowers should be treated as follows:

  • Boil syrup
  • this must be simmered for 20 minutes
  • Toxins are destroyed
Tip: Lilac blossoms are also popular as a tea. But even this pleasure should be enjoyed with caution, as the toxins are not completely destroyed. Sensitive people then often react with stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Lilacberries are harmless
If you discover lilacberry tea or lilacberry juice in the supermarket, you can buy it here. Because the lilac berries are not berries from the common lilac. This is another name for the wholesome black elderberries.Conclusion
Parents with small children or in a household with free-range pets should be particularly careful if there is already a lilac in the garden. Re-cultivation should then be avoided in any case. Because even if the lilac is not particularly poisonous for adults, small children or pets can swallow parts of it. If symptoms of poisoning then occur, it is advisable to call a doctor directly via the emergency number. In the case of affected animals, these should be presented directly to the veterinarian. Because the small bodies react more violently to the ingredients in the lilac than is the case with adults.

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