Are Asters Poisonous?

Most species of asters are not poisonous to humans, dogs, cats or livestock. In fact, the flowers of Chinese asters, Callistephus chinensis are edible. Most asters are safe to plant in the garden where children, dogs, cats or livestock might come in contact with them. Note that woody aster, Xylorrhiza glabriuscula can absorb selenium from the soil at high enough levels to cause toxicity. Aster flowers typically are used for decoration only as they can have an unpleasant texture to humans. As with any type of consumption, any item like asters that is overly consumed may cause stomach discomfort. Children may be drawn to the brightly colored flowers but they are harmless if consumed.


Are Asters Poisonous to Children?

Most asters are not poisonous to kids, children, toddlers or babies, although an over-consumption of the plant may cause stomach upset but nothing requiring medical attention. The exception is woody aster, which can be toxic in people due to its uptake of selenium in alkaline soils. In addition, there have been rare reports of respiratory reactions and skin allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family in sensitive people. The plant's foliage is abrasive and can cause minor skin irritations in some people. There are cellulose hairs on the plant’s stems that some people may find unpleasant to touch or ingest but they're not toxic. The texture of the stems, leaves, and flowers is rough, making them unpleasant to ingest but not typically toxic, excluding woody aster.   

Are Asters Poisonous to Dogs?

Asters may cause minor stomach irritation if ingested by puppies or dogs but they are not usually toxic. If ingested by the dog or puppy, they would not require veterinary attention. The exception is the woody aster, which can contain high levels of selenium that can cause selenium intoxication. Most dogs or puppies would find the texture of the plant disagreeable and therefore steer clear of this perennial. If ingested by puppies or dogs, it may cause vomiting or diarrhea. 


Are Asters  Poisonous to Cats?

Asters are not typically toxic to cats but the selenium in woody asters may cause stomach upset and even death if consumed in high enough quantities. Cats or kittens are not typically drawn to aster plants, preferring to stay clear of the unpleasant texture of the stems and leaves. If a cat or kitten should ingest any part of the plant, it is not toxic in a threatening way. 

Are Asters Poisonous to Other Animals?

Most asters are non-toxic to livestock, although the potentially high concentration of selenium in woody asters may cause poisoning for some livestock such as horses. Ingestion of this plant in high quantities can cause atypical movement, fever, rapid pulse, labored breathing, bloating, pale and blueish mucus membranes, hair loss, lameness, dilated pupils, and can be life threatening. Deer may predate the flowers if their normal source of forage is scarce.

Symptoms Of Aster Poisoning

Always check with your doctor or veterinarian for guidance if you suspect aster poisoning. 

Here are some common symptoms of selenium intoxication from smooth woody asters to look out for:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooping head
  • Frothy and bloody discharge from the nose
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fever
  • Labored breathing
  • Stiffness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hoof slough

Preventing Aster Poisoning

Surrounding the asters with a fence, chicken wire, hardware cloth, or plants with thorns or unpleasant textures may all be ways to keep the asters at a safe distance from cats, dogs, livestock, or curious children. Although they are not typically toxic, asters may be bright and colorful enough to catch the eye of pets or small children. Planting them out of reach or in an inaccessible area is a sure way to guarantee that they will not be unwittingly ingested. Note woody asters can accumulate dangerous levels of selenium, particularly when planted in alkaline soils. Consider replacing this plant with a nontoxic alternative if you have children, pets, or grazing animals nearby.

Pet Poison Helpline

If something were to happen to your furry friend, and you suspect that they are suffering from aster poisoning, there is a poison control hotline to call for 24/7 vet advice. It is called the Pet Poison Hotline, and their phone number is (855) 764-7661.


"China Aster." American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"Woody Aster." Colorado State University Guide to Poisonous Plants.

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Author Chris Link - Published 08-29-2022