Are Tulips Poisonous?

Author: Gabrielle Marks
Though rarely fatal, tulips are poisonous.

More Info: When ingested the bulbs, flowers, and the stems can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and dizziness. Convulsions and death, though rare, have been reported.  When handled in large quantities tulip bulbs, such as those handled by nursery workers, have been reported to cause contact dermatitis.

Are Tulips Edible?

Historically tulip bulbs have been cooked and consumed, possibly mistaken for onion bulbs, in times of desperation and food shortages.  Authoritative agencies have since deemed the bulb a poisonous part of the part.

As far as additional portions of the plant being edible, caution would be the wisest course of action.  Some extension services maintain that all parts of the tulip should be considered potentially poisonous, while others list tulip petals as being edible.

What Are the Symptoms of Tulip Poisoning?

Though there have been fatalities reported as a result of ingesting tulips, more common side effects include abdominal pain, sweating, nausea, dizziness, salivation, and vomiting.

Contact symptoms include skin irritation including redness, tingling, blisters, and skin lesions.  Contact symptoms can occur immediately following contact or can occur later.  Skin irritation may spread from the point of contact outward.

Allergic reactions are also common.

How Poisonous Is the Tulip?

For those not allergic or extremely sensitive to its effects, tulips are considered mildly poisonous.  Ingesting a tulip has a low toxicity and skin irritation is generally mild.


Works Cited

Nova Scotia Museum
Poisonous Plants - Tulip - The Poison Plant Patch

North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Poisonous Plants: Tulipa spp

North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Edible Flowers

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"Are Tulips Poisonous?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

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