Are Lilacs Poisonous

Lilac plants have been popular for many generations and are still a staple for many yards and garden areas. Lilacs do not contain any chemicals or toxins that will poison humans or animals and they do not irritate the skin. Lilacs are free of poisons from the tips of their branches to the ends of their roots. In fact, the flowers of the lilac are actually edible. 


If you have heard that lilacs are poisonous, you have mistaken the bush for a plant called Persian lilac-also known as the Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach). This plant does not grow in colder regions that are suitable for the common lilac. 

While the common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris) is not poisonous, consumption of plants and their materials may cause stomach and digestion concerns in animals.

Are Lilacs Poisonous to Children?

Lilac plants, from their flowers to their roots, are not toxic to humans at all. In fact, when well washed, the flowers of lilacs are edible.


Are Lilacs Poisonous to Dogs?

Lilacs do not contain any chemicals that will poison animals or humans, nor do they irritate the skin. Even though lilac stems, leaves, and flowers pose no health threat to dogs, it is a good idea to keep your dog from chewing on the plant. Too much roughage may upset the digestive system in your pet.Twigs and leaves can also get stuck in their throats. In addition, eating large quantities of  plant material can be difficult for dogs to digest, causing nausea or diarrhea. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the Persian lilac (Melia azedarach) which is not related to true lilac, is poisonous to dogs. 

Are Lilacs Poisonous to Cats?

Cats are naturally curious creatures. They will explore anything new in their environment, including plants. Many common plants contain cat poisons that can cause harm to your pet. The lilac plant does not usually appear on the list of plants toxic to cats; however, some lilac species are poisonous to cats. While the common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris) is safe for all animals, the Persian lilac of the Melia genus is very toxic for cats.

The Persian lilac can cause gastrointestinal distress, muscle weakness, tremors, and seizures if ingested. Once a cat ingests a toxin, symptoms may not show up right away. Some toxins take 3-4 days to show any effects. A change in behavior is the first sign that something is wrong. 

Watch out for below symptoms if your cat has already consumed some part of the Persian lilac.

  • Drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea
  • Difficulty walking or a staggering walk
  • lethargy or an overall sluggishness
  • Pale or yellowish gums
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Nervousness or hyperactivity
  • seizure or difficulty breathing

If symptoms are more severe, contact your veterinarian or call Animal Poison Control (888)426-4435.


Are Lilacs Poisonous to Other Animals?

The common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris) is generally considered non-toxic to livestock, such as horses, chickens, pigs, and goats. It is smart to keep horses away from lilac bushes, as the uncommon Persian lilac variety is poisonous to a horse. Free range chickens will peck at anything that you have planted. Lilac plants are safe for chickens to be around. Pigs will eat anything in front of them. The common lilac is non toxic for them as well. Goats will try to eat the bark and branches of lilac plants.

Eating even small quantities will give a goat a stomach ache and he will stay away from it in the future. Careful of the French lilac (Galega officinalis)- it has galenin which is considered lethal in sheep. 

Symptoms of Lilac Poisoning

The common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris) is non toxic for animals.  If you suspect that your pet has ingested parts of a lilac bush, you will want to contact your veterinarian for advice. The most common concern resulting from ingestion of a plant is gastrointestinal issues. Any consumption of plant material may cause stomach and digestion concerns on animals. If you suspect your animal has consumed plant material, here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If symptoms are more severe, contact your veterinarian or call Animal Poison Control (888)426-4435.

Click here for a complete list of Pet Safe Plants.


"Syringa vulgaris - L." Plants for a Future.

"Syringa vulgaris." The North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.

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Author Chris Link - Published 12-09-2020