Are succulents poisonous?

While not all succulents are poisonous, it’s a good idea to know the few that are and what type of threat they may pose to humans and animals.


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When I first started growing succulents I hadn’t considered the fact that some of them might be poisonous or dangerous, especially since I knew some succulents like Aloe vera and Opuntia ficus-indica (Prickly Pear) can be eaten. I also knew (from too much experience) that the spines on cacti could also be painful.

Find out what succulents may be harmful to humans and pets

However, now that I have a very curious toddler it’s something I’ve become much more aware of. As I’ve researched the topic, I’ve discovered that a majority of succulents don’t pose a threat to humans. There are a few more that can be potentially dangerous for animals. Overall though, succulents are pretty safe as far as toxicity is concerned. I’m finding that the spines and needles are the most dangerous part of succulents.

In general, if you don’t know what type of succulents you own, I’d highly recommend calling poison control if your child ingests any succulent. While they likely will not cause any serious harm, it could make them sick. If you have dogs or cats, or any other animal that roams your house or near your succulent garden it’s a great idea to look up the type of succulents you own and see what potential threat they are to your animals. While many animals are smart enough to avoid plants that can make them sick, not all will.

Euphorbias

One of the more commonly known poisonous succulent is the Euphorbia family. Euphorbias contain a white sap in their leaves that can irritate skin. While not all people react as intensely, the sap will generally cause a rash to appear wherever it came in contact with skin. It’s best to use gloves when handling Euphorbias to avoid skin contact with the sap. You also shouldn’t ingest the sap or a Euphorbia plant in general.

Did you know some succulents can be poisonous to humans and pets?

Kalanchoes

While not dangerous for humans, many Kalanchoes can cause animals to become sick if they eat the leaves. Usually it will cause some sickness but is rarely fatal.

Find out which succulents might be dangerous for humans and pets

Kalanchoe luciae, Pachyphytum bracteosum, Portulacaria afra

Cacti and Succulent Safety

The two genera listed above are the only two that I found consistently listed as potentially harmful to humans and animals as far as being poisonous. However, it’s equally important to keep sharp succulents out of reach of children and animals. When you are decorating with succulents indoors, place cacti and sharp succulents such as Agaves out of reach for both children and animals. While some have sharp spines that can easily cause harm, some are more subtle but still irritating. One of my least favorite cacti as far as needles go is Opuntia microdasys. These little guys are the worst! One slight bump and you’ll be pulling needles out of your hand for days, not to mention the subtle sting and irritation that accompany them.

Be careful when working with cactus to avoid getting spines in your fingers - this Opuntia microdasys is especially tricky

Opuntia microdasys ‘Angel Wings’

For outdoor succulent gardens try to keep anything sharp away from sidewalks or areas where children and pets frequently play. Also let your children know that touching the spikes can be painful! Just a few simple measures can help keep everyone safe while roaming your garden.

When potting cacti, you can use gloves to help prevent getting poked by their spines. Another way to avoid contact with these sharp succulents is to wrap them with a towel or newspaper before planting. Then you can hold onto the towel or newspaper without getting spines in your hands.

Again, it’s helpful to know which succulents you own and do a little research to see if they may pose a threat to any of your loved ones. Fortunately though, succulents are pretty safe plants overall!

2017-09-18T23:18:17+00:00

37 Comments

  1. Lin Baker April 19, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Dear Cassidy,
    Several months ago I started a pot garden here in my AZ home. I went to succulents due to being stuck by many a spine and cactus hair. Now after a few months of gardening, I have a rash(like poison oak) on my face, around both eyes and forehead which comes and goes. I thank you for your blog which helped me see that I need to get rid of the spiny cacti and stick with the succulents w/o the sticky things. I think I am allergic to my garden. Anyhow, most of them are hitting the trash can tomorrow. Then off to the doc for steroid shots. I am deathly allergic to poison oak/sumac and maybe cactus too. My garden is lovely with many gorgeous succulents. I am heartbroken that I have to get rid of some due to allergies. Well, bless you and thanks again.
    Lin in AZ

    • Cassidy Tuttle April 21, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      I am so sorry, that sounds terrible! I hope that some new succulents will treat you better. Best wishes! Feel better soon.

  2. Sharon Leung April 25, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I had a horrible allergic reaction to mule’s tail. I looked it up after the fact and found out that it’s not uncommon! Always look up your plants!

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 4, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Oh no! Yes for sure!

  3. AnaMaria Garrabrant April 30, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Hello, GREAT WEBSITE!!! ?
    I too have started collecting succulents again! ? Last week I excitedly found an intriguing little pot of “string-of-pearls”, or “Senecio Rowleyanus” at a nice gift/plant shop.??
    After getting it home, I got to work right away looking for the perfect spot in my garden. I happily spent the while afternoon making holes in the pot, attaching hanging chains and hooks, arranging and re-arranging the lovely strings and admiring the cute pearls close up. I was in new-plant-heaven!!! ??
    The next morning, I noticed a rash on my face and even tiny oozing blisters. ? YEP! I ended up in urgent care only to find out I had inadvertently touched my face after handling my beautiful but toxic new plant. ? BUMMER! Lesson learned! ALWAYS Google plants BEFORE you bring them home! =/ It’so cute! I still love it, but now am VERY careful when handling it! ??

    • Cassidy Tuttle May 4, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Oh no! That is too bad!! Thank you for sharing, such a good suggestion!

  4. Rebecca Going May 23, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Does anyone know if sedeveria is poisonous if eaten. My grandson pulled out a few pieces and ate them. He spit them out pretty quick.

  5. Serena May 29, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Hi there we have some aeonium in our yard & just brought home a 9 week old golden retriever- could you please shed some light as to whether it’s toxic? Thanking you in advance!

    • Cassidy Tuttle June 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Not that I know of, you should be fine.

    • Cathy September 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

      A 9-week-old Golden? I’m thinking the pup will be toxic to the plants ?

  6. Irene August 14, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I’ve heard the sap of the pencil cacti are very dangerous, especially for animals! One of my friend’s dogs, when he chewed a leaf, he vomited a lot and became sick.. :| I became cautious coz it’s only been a day when I got my cutting from my neighbor, and I have several cats at home who are capable of mauling my plants so I just threw my cutting away.. It’s sad but i guess it’s better for my pets :|

    • Chantile -- Succulents and Sunshine Success Team August 15, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Yes, the sap can be harmful to animals. It never hurts to be too cautious! Hopefully there is something else you can get and enjoy in your home that won’t bother your pets!

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