Is Iris Poisonous?

No matter if an iris is grown from a rhizome, bulb, or fibrous root system, they all have a mild level of toxicity that can cause issues for humans and pets. Although all parts of an iris can cause a reaction, the rhizomes and roots are more likely to cause skin irritation and intestinal issues. Irises produce compounds called pentacyclic terpenoids that are most often found in sap that is produced when cutting the roots or stems. It is recommended to wear gloves and long sleeves when working with iris plants. 


Are Irises Poisonous to Children?

The chemical compounds in iris may affect children more than adults, purely because children are smaller in size and weight. Children that have sensitive skin may react quickly if they are exposed to the milky sap of the roots or a broken flower stem. Watch for redness, itchiness, or hives at the site of exposure. Children that ingest any part of the plant may also experience stomach upset at a faster rate than an adult. The flowers and leaves contain far fewer terpenoids, although ingesting large amounts should be discouraged.

Are Irises Poisonous to Dogs?

Dogs that consume any amount of an iris may experience heavy drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Puppies, with a naturally lower body weight, may react to smaller amounts of the plant than older dogs, which may weigh more. 


Are Irises Poisonous to Cats?

Cats can be poisoned by irises if they ingest the rhizomes and roots. Other parts of the plant are also mildly toxic when ingested in large amounts. Cats who have eaten iris plant parts may appear lethargic, have uncharacteristic drooling and/or vomiting or diarrhea.

Are Irises Poisonous to Other Animals?

Horses and other livestock can be bothered by the mild toxins in irises. Animals foraging or grazing in fields with iris present run the risk of developing contact dermatitis and sores on their lips or mouth as well as intestinal upset from ingesting large amounts of the leaves or flowers. 

Symptoms Of Iris Poisoning

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

Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Drooling 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Rash or hives on the affected skin 
  • Sores in the mouth or on the lips 

Preventing Iris Poisoning

Animals and children should be kept away from areas where there are large plantings of iris. Compost or dispose of any clippings and deadheaded material quickly to reduce the risk of a child or pet being exposed to the milky sap. Wear long sleeves and gloves when cutting back, planting, or dividing iris plants. 

Pet Poison Helpline

If something were to happen to your furry friend, and you suspect that they are suffering from iris 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.


"Iris." University of Utah Health. 

"Iris." American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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 Author Robbin Small - Published 4-19-2023