Are Tulips Toxic To Humans? | What Part of Tulip is Poisonous?

Tulips are a popular flower that is often considered safe to eat. However, there are some concerns that tulips may be toxic to humans. In this blog post, we will explore the risks associated with tulips and whether or not they are safe to consume. We will also provide tips on identifying if tulips are toxic and what to do if you think you may have ingested them. So whether you’re a gardener looking to add a tulip to your garden or a person who plans to eat them, this blog is for you.

What Part of Tulip is Poisonous?

The bulbs contain the highest concentration of deadly compounds, with the leaves, stems, roots, and berries also being poisonous. The toxicity of tulip bulbs varies depending on the part of the tulip that is consumed.

The bulbous central part (or meristem) contains a glycoside called tulips, which can be poisonous if ingested. Tulipalin poisoning symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. These effects are usually short-lived and only occur in high doses (over 10 g). However, taking antidotes such as milk thistle or niacin can help to treat those affected by tulip poisoning.

The leaves and stems of Tulips do not contain tulipalin but can still be poisonous if ingested. Symptoms of tulip toxicity in these cases include difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting. Again, treatment is usually available with antidotes such as milk thistle or niacin.

Tulips are bulb-forming species of plants in the lily family. The tulip plant grows to a height of 1-2 meters and has leaves that are ovate or elliptical, with a point at the tip, and flowers that resemble daffodils. Several varieties of tulips include the yellow onion tulip, which is considered poisonous due to its bulb content.

What Poison Is Found In Tulips?

The tulip bulb contains a high concentration of poisonous alkaloid and glycoside chemicals. Alkaloid glycosides are molecules of sugar bonded to another compound—usually, one containing nitrogen—by an oxygen atom. By severing the oxygen connection between the second chemical and the sugar molecule, digestive fluids transform them into hazardous substances. Rarely tulip glycoproteins can lead to the clumping of human red blood cells.

Tulipin A and Tulipin B are two allergens in tulip bulbs that can lead to skin rashes and brittle nails. 

People who handle tulip bulbs in horticultural settings or tulip-packing sheds and are exposed to high levels of tulip bulb dust may have symptoms in their hands and other areas of their bodies that haven’t come into contact with the dust. A tingling sensation in the fingers is a preliminary sign of tulip dermatitis. Tulip allergens may not cause symptoms for up to 12 hours after exposure, and not everyone is allergic to them. If you experience tulip poisoning symptoms, contact a poison control center or a doctor.

What Are Symptoms Of Tulip Poisoning Seen In People?

If a person ingests tulip shells or plants, the symptoms of tulip poisoning in people may include vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs of tulip poisoning in people may include mouth, lips, and tongue irritation, excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and sudden death.

Other signs of tulip poisoning in people may include skin irritation, oral irritation, pawing at the mouth, and reduced appetite. Difficulty breathing and lack of coordination can also be signs of tulip poisoning.

Tulip glycosides are allergic; some people react more severely than others. People who handle tulips may develop a disorder known as “tulip fingers” or “tulip dermatitis,” which manifests as the following symptoms:

  • A rash on the hands that may blister
  •  Numbness or tingling in the fingers and hands
  •  broken nails

The main contributor to this condition is tuliposide, located in the bulb’s outer layer.

Some people have more severe tulip allergies or become increasingly allergic to them. These unfortunate individuals will have symptoms after exposure to plant debris, including tulip dust. Dermatitis doesn’t just affect the hands. Any region of the body might develop a rash. 

The mucous membranes in their nasal and sinus passages will be swollen. Their eyes will itch, maybe swell, and develop conjunctivitis. Asthma symptoms may manifest and impede breathing. Those who have this allergic reaction should stay away from tulips. They shouldn’t choose tulips as one of their garden plants. Dermatitis from tulips can develop up to 12 hours following exposure.

In desperation during World War II, people tried eating tulip bulbs due to severe hunger, reasoning that the bulbs were worth trying because they resembled onions.

After consuming tulips, people typically experience the following symptoms.

  • Nausea
  •  Vomiting
  •  Breathing troubles
  •  excessive sweating
  •  Excessive saliva production
  •  Dizziness
  •  Tingling in the hands and feet
  •  itchiness all over the skin
  •  Confusion
  •  Stomach Pains
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Weakness
  •  Heart palpitations
  •  Convulsions

Death is possible but uncommon; it happens more often in children, persons with tulip allergies, or when many tulips have been consumed.

Some individuals mistakenly consume tulip bulbs for onions. Tulips and onions should be grown together in a different garden. The tulips and onions must be cultivated in well-defined zones to avoid mistakes.

What To Do If You Are Intoxicated With Tulips?

If you are intoxicated with tulips, it is essential to call for help immediately. Intoxication with tulips can lead to several dangerous consequences, including impaired vision, confusion, and even seizures. If you cannot contact someone or experience any of the above symptoms, it is crucial to call 911 immediately. Anyone intoxicated with tulips should not drive or operate heavy machinery until they have had time to sober up and have had a chance to consult a doctor.

The History of Tulip Bulbs Eaten During World War II

Although it may sound unusual, every Dutchman knows the legend that tulip bulbs were consumed during the war. Hunger was the only explanation for this. During the winter of 1944–1945, there was a severe famine in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, our predecessors didn’t consume tulip bulbs for fun; instead, they did it because there wasn’t anything else to eat.

Many older Dutchmen recall the starvation and the tulip bulbs they consumed. Many of our visitors to our theme park, Land van Fluwel, share their recollections with us. Even though they are aware that we only utilize tulip bulbs for flowers and not food, they occasionally have trouble recognizing them. Hunger is a strong feeling that is difficult to forget.

The lost Battle of Arnhem (1944), in which allied forces failed to liberate the nation’s northern provinces, was the cause of the Dutch famine. The freed regions of Europe were cut off from the northern provinces. Both food and gasoline supplies run gone. Then a severe winter started. Thousands of Dutch civilians died from freezing or starvation.

Because of the war, tulip growers did not plant tulip bulbs that year. Isoldnstead, vast stocks of tulip bulbs were kept on farms nationwide. Authorities decided to use these reserves as food for the starving people during the famine. Old, dried-up tulip bulbs were sold in grocery stores, and newspapers featured tulip-based recipes. Because the tulip bulbs were filling and relatively simple to prepare, less oil was required.