Is the Christmas rose poisonous?

a bee on a Christmas rose
a bee on a Christmas rose

Christmas roses bloom in gardens in winter and thus provide variety in the cold season. But beware: These beauties are poisonous and eating them can have serious consequences.

Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) are also called snow roses because they bloom in winter. In the right location in the garden, partial shade to shade and sandy to loamy soil, they bloom in pink or white and form dense clusters. The true Christmas roses have their blooming season in winter. The spring-blooming Christmas roses are Orientalis hybrids, which are also called lenten roses or false helleborine.

How poisonous is the Christmas rose?

All Christmas roses contain highly toxic substances such as protoanemonin and saponin helleborin, a so-called heart poison. All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause nasty symptoms of poisoning. The highest concentration of toxins is found in the rhizome. However, the mature seeds also contain many toxins and cause symptoms of poisoning when eaten. If horses come into contact with Christmas roses in the pasture or cat and dog puppies chew on the plant out of curiosity, it can be dangerous for them.

What are the symptoms of poisoning with Christmas roses?

In case of excessive consumption of the poisonous Christmas rose plant parts, you must expect nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe thirst, dilated pupils, inflamed oral mucous membranes and dizziness are also among the typical symptoms. Severe poisoning makes itself felt with cardiac arrhythmias, in some cases a circulatory collapse is imminent. Anyone who ingests too high a dose can suffer respiratory paralysis, which leads to death.

When planting or caring for Christmas roses, always wear gloves. Contact with the sap, leaves, flowers and other parts of the plant can cause redness, itching and eczema.

How do poisoning symptoms become apparent in animals?

In animals, the symptoms of poisoning are manifested by vomiting, diarrhea and increased salivation. Animals also suffer from convulsions and a marked change in breathing. Some animals can no longer control their limbs. They stagger and fall. In severe cases, signs of paralysis appear. As soon as you notice symptoms like these, you should quickly consult a veterinarian, because the animals can die as a result.

What to do in case of poisoning with Christmas roses?

If you suspect poisoning from eating hellebore or Christmas roses, respectively, ingesting charcoal tablets is advisable as a first aid measure. Call an emergency physician immediately and contact a poison control center.

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