Ivy is considered poisonous. The climbing plant can cause symptoms of poisoning even if it comes into contact with the skin or if only a few parts of the plant are eaten. Learn more about the effects of ivy and how you should act in case of emergency here.
Ivy is poisonous, but the shade-loving climbing plant is still very popular for planting on walls and fences. However, children and pets in particular can be poisoned by ivy.
How toxic is ivy?
The Information Center against Poisoning of the University of Bonn classifies ivy as “slightly toxic” to “toxic”. The reason: the plant contains so-called triterpene saponins, which are considered toxic. In addition, the leaves contain the toxic substance falcarionol. All parts of the climbing plant are poisonous.
Even if you touch the plant, the contained falcarionol can cause skin irritation and irritation up to the formation of blisters. In the forest, you should therefore avoid touching ivy. If you want to cut back the climbing plant in your garden, you should wear gloves.
The fruits of ivy are much more dangerous. However, these do not form from the beginning: Only after about 20 years, the evergreen plant begins to bloom and form fruits. The contained triter saponin with the name “alpha-hederin” affects mainly the cardiovascular system as well as the digestive tract. Symptoms of poisoning may occur after only a few berries consumed. Symptoms include:
- Circulatory problems
At higher doses, there may be additional neurological symptoms such as palpitations, headaches or seizures.
The risks also apply to pets: the animal protection organization “Humane Society of the United States” also classifies ivy as toxic for dogs and cats.
What to do if poisoned by ivy?
Although ivy is poisonous, the plant is very popular.
Although the berries of ivy taste very bitter, children or pets may ingest the poisonous fruit. Already two to three berries can cause symptoms of poisoning. If this happens, the first thing to do is to stay calm.
In case of skin contact: Here it is usually enough to wash the affected areas thoroughly with lukewarm water and a mild soap. If the skin is very irritated, you should provide it with sufficient moisture. Make sure to use only fragrance-free products to avoid further irritation of the skin.
If consumed: Since even a few berries can lead to symptoms of poisoning, you should consult a doctor. Observe the person’s vital signs such as blood pressure or body temperature. Try to find out how much and which parts of the plant were consumed. You should also consult a veterinarian if you have pets.
For more information, contact your local poison control center.