The results found on the internet about the toxicity of the passion flower are very contradictory. The ornamental plant is a popular houseplant in these latitudes, and parents and pet owners are wondering if they can cultivate the flower in their own homes. There are many different Passiflora species, some more toxic and some less toxic. The following article explains the toxicity of the passion flower.

Poisonous Species

Various Passiflora species are more or less poisonous. There are over 500 species, so it’s not easy to determine which ones are dangerous because of the fruit or other parts of the flower. Because there are also passion flowers, such as the grenadilla or the passion fruit, whose fruits are tasty and edible when ripe. On the other hand, inedible to poisonous passion flowers include the following:

  • Subgenus Decaloba
  • 220 different varieties
  • are all classified as slightly to severely toxic
  • especially in the plant parts
Note: The consumption of the poisonous parts of the plant is usually not fatal for healthy adults, but these flowers should not come into contact with small children and pets.

Flesh-colored and blue passionflower

These are the most widespread and well-known Passiflora species. For example, it has now been established that the blue passion flower does not have any toxic ingredients in its fruits and plant parts. The flesh-colored passion flower is also very popular in local households, but the toxicity here has not yet been clarified. The fruits and flowers of the Passiflora incarnata, as the botanical name is, are often used in medicine, as they have a drug-like effect. They are mainly used for nervousness and insomnia.

Tip: Since the toxicity of one or the other passion flower species is still being discussed, they should not find their way into a household with small children or pets or should be placed in such a way that the flowers cannot be accessed, for example in a room that is always closed .

Toxic ingredients

Most Passiflora varieties contain hydrocyanic acid in the parts and in the fruits. However, the concentration of hydrocyanic acid varies here. Some passion flowers are highly toxic, others only slightly. Hydrocyanic acid is a highly toxic substance, also known as hydrogen cyanide. Ingesting the toxin inhibits an enzyme in the human body that is responsible for cell respiration. Therefore, even small amounts can lead to an oxygen deficiency. So the dangerous amounts look like this:

  • one to two milligrams per kilo of body weight
  • Tolerance range is between 1-60 mg per kilo
  • very broad
Note: Hydrocyanic acid is not only found in bitter almonds or apricot kernels. The green kidney bean also contains the poison and should therefore only be enjoyed cooked. Prussic acid has a water solubility at a boiling point of 26° Celsius.

Symptoms if consumed

The symptoms of poisoning can vary depending on the amount consumed. Poisoning can be more dramatic, especially in small rodents or cats. Small children who have only a small body weight are also at risk. The following can be determined in the case of a person affected by the consequences of poisoning by the passion flower:

  • Scratchy throat
  • dizziness
  • circulatory problems
  • a headache
  • Vomit
  • increased salivation
  • cramps
  • general weakness
  • first excitement
  • then paralysis of the central nervous system
  • lack of oxygen

Even if serious poisoning is usually not to be expected, the emergency doctor should be informed and the poison control center should be consulted. Especially when small children show symptoms of poisoning, no one should be afraid to dial 112 and request the emergency doctor. Animals showing symptoms of poisoning should be presented to the nearest veterinarian immediately.

Tip: If you are not sure whether an adult or especially a child has ingested parts of the passion flower or poisoned fruit, you should never hesitate to call the emergency services. The motto here is that it is better to call once too much than too little.

Conclusion
Of the more than 500 species of passion flower, most are poisonous, but around 20 varieties are edible fruits, and the passion fruit is probably the most well-known. Some Passiflora species are also used in medicine. Since other species contain more or less hydrocyanic acid in all parts, they should only find their way into a household where there are no small children and no pets. A healthy, adult person, on the other hand, usually has nothing to fear here, not even when eating.

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