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Toxic Effects of Lily Plants

Tiger lily image by Oleg Pivovarov from

There are many different types of lilies. They come in a variety of colors such as yellow, pink, white and even black. You may know them as Easter lilies, peace lilies, calla lilies or tiger lilies. One thing you may not be aware of, however, is that all of these exotic beauties are poisonous; when ingested, some can even be deadly.

Poisonous Parts

All parts of the lily, including flowers, fruit and leaves, are considered poisonous. Even the sap contained inside the leaves and stems can be an irritant. This sap may cause burning on your skin, or blistering on your mouth and esophagus if you chew and swallow the leaves.

Symptoms In Humans

Signs that indicate that poisoning has occurred may include diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, drowsiness and weakness. Humans may experience depression or blurriness of vision and see halos around objects with the halo appearing in shades of yellow green or white. Depression and halos are generally seen in more advanced cases where there has been a chronic overdose.

Symptoms in Animals

Animals can display many of the same symptoms as humans. An indication that an animal has been poisoned may also include excessive drooling and depression. Both dogs and cats may have reactions to lilies, however plants such as the tiger lily are much more deadly for cats than for dogs. While dogs are more likely to have mild gastrointestinal distress, the tiger lily can cause kidney damage in cats; if you do not seek treatment immediately, it may even cause death.


When poisoning is suspected in humans or animals, seek immediate medical help. Do not induce vomiting since this may further aggravate your mouth and esophagus. Once at the hospital, poison victims may receive charcoal treatments, intravenous fluids (IV), support for breathing and an electrocardiogram (EKG). Both human and animals may spend several days in the hospital and receive supportive treatment during this time.

Emergency Resources

There are two important numbers that can assist you when you suspect a human or animal has been poisoned. The National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 provides free information about poisons and prevention. The ASPCA Poison Control Center 888-426-4435 provides information about symptoms and emergency treatment for animals. You can call both numbers from anywhere in the United States and someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There may, however, be a fee associated with calls to the ASPCA that could be charged to your credit card.

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