Lupins create gorgeous flowering spikes, but are these beautiful flowers also dangerous? Are lupins poisonous? Let’s have a look and find out.
So, Are Lupins Poisonous?
Most lupins are poisonous and can cause digestive discomfort to humans if eaten. They are also dangerous to animals and can cause severe reactions in animals sometimes even death.
Do not panic though and go digging up your lupins immediately, very large quantities would have to be consumed in a short time period to cause more serious effects.
You just need to make sure young children or pets don’t go eating the seeds.
When the plant has finished flowering the seed pod can look very much like a pea or bean pod so watch out.
Why are Lupins Poisonous?
They contain a high concentration of a toxic alkaloid called ‘lupanine’. When consumed in high quantities this can cause poisoning in humans and animals.
The toxins can be removed by the process of soaking and boiling. This is the process done to the lupin seeds you will see in many health shops bought for human consumption.
There is a little toxicity in lupin leaves but the vast majority is in the seeds. Keep lupin seeds well away from pets and young children! One problem with lupin seeds is that the pods look very similar to pea and bean pods.
While some Lupins are toxic other varieties have been bred specifically for human consumption and are a recent health craze. The Dieta Lupin was bred in the UK, especially for human use, and is completely non-bitter, even without any special preparation.
What part of lupins are poisonous?
With lupins, it is mainly the seeds that are poisonous although the leaves do also contain some of the toxic lupanine but in much lower quantities.
Some varieties of lupin do not have any of this chemical in the leaves but most do. Some lupins are also not poisonous until flowers appear but some are poisonous all of the time.
Are lupins toxic to touch?
I am a gardener and not a doctor so if you are really worried about lupins then I consult with your doctor before growing them as allergic reactions can happen.
No, lupins are not toxic to touch for most people and usually have to be digested to cause discomfort. Some people though may be allergic to lupins.
I handle lupins in my garden with my bare hands all of the time and have never had any issues.
Normally people who have a nut allergy can also be allergic to lupins but reactions can happen in people with no previous allergic reactions. You can learn more about lupins and allergic reactions here.