Is the Giant Honey Flower Poisonous? Find Out Here

The giant honey flower, also known as Epiphyllum oxypetalum, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and fascinating plants in the world. This captivating cactus species is native to Central America and Southern Mexico and has been known for its large white flowers that bloom only at night. However, while this plant might be pleasing to the eye, one thing that concern many people is whether it’s poisonous or not. In this article, we will shed some light on this topic and find out whether the giant honey flower is safe or not.

With its mesmerizing beauty and unique characteristics, the giant honey flower has been a subject of curiosity and interest for many people. Veterinarians, pet owners, and plant enthusiasts are amongst those that want to know if the giant honey flower is poisonous and what the potential effects of exposure could be. In this article, we will address these concerns and provide you with all the necessary information that you should know about this plant.

If you are an avid gardener or someone who enjoys having plants in your home, the question of whether the giant honey flower is poisonous may have crossed your mind. The good news is that you no longer need to live in doubt, as we’ve got you covered. In the following paragraphs, we will walk you through all the information you need to know about the giant honey flower and its potential risks. So sit back, relax, and let’s get started!

Honey flower plant description

The giant honey flower, also known as Melianthus major, is a flowering plant native to South Africa but can be found in various parts of the world such as Australia, Europe, and North America. It is a perennial evergreen shrublet that can grow up to 2 meters tall, with attractive dark green leaves that are fern-like in shape.

The flowers of the giant honey flower are striking, with deep maroon or burgundy petals that form a complex architectural structure. The blooms are arranged in panicles that can grow up to one meter long, creating a striking display when in full bloom. In addition to its aesthetic value, the giant honey flower is also known for its distinctive fragrance, which has been described as a mixture of honey and burnt caramel.

Physical Characteristics of the Giant Honey Flower

The giant honey flower, also known as Cerbera odollam, is a toxic plant species that is found in Southeast Asia and India. It is commonly known for its use in traditional medicine, but its toxicity has also gained significant attention in recent years due to its use as a pesticide and a method of suicide. The plant is visually appealing, but its toxicity makes it a danger to humans and animals alike.

  • The giant honey flower is a small evergreen tree that can grow up to 20 meters tall in the wild.
  • The leaves are elongated and oblong, with a pointed tip and a smooth surface. They are a glossy green color and reach up to 15 centimeters in length.
  • The flowers are waxy and white, with five petals. They have a fragrant aroma and are known to attract bees, which in turn produces honey.

The honey produced by the giant honey flower is known for its high toxicity and is often referred to as “mad honey.” It contains grayanotoxins, which can cause symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and even heart failure in severe cases. As a result, it is imperative to be cautious when consuming honey from the giant honey flower or its related species.

The toxicity of the plant also extends to its seeds, which contain cerberin, a powerful cardiac glycoside. Ingestion of the seeds can cause severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, followed by heart arrhythmia and eventual death. Therefore, it is essential to handle the plant with care and avoid ingesting any part of it.

Physical Characteristics of the Giant Honey Flower Details
Common Name Giant Honey Flower
Scientific Name Cerbera odollam
Size Up to 20 meters tall
Leaves Elongated and oblong, up to 15 centimeters in length, glossy green color
Flowers White, waxy, five petals, fragrant aroma

In conclusion, the giant honey flower is a visually appealing plant that contains high levels of toxicity. Its leaves, flowers, and seeds are all toxic and can cause severe health complications when ingested. It is essential to exercise caution when handling or consuming any part of the plant.

Toxicity and poisonous compounds in plants

Plants are known to produce toxic compounds as a means of defense against herbivores and other predators. Exposure to these compounds can lead to a range of symptoms, from mild skin irritation to more severe symptoms such as respiratory failure or death. In this section, we will explore some common toxic compounds found in plants and their effects on human health.

  • Alkaloids: Alkaloids are a group of naturally occurring nitrogen-containing compounds found in plants. They can be toxic in high doses and can cause a range of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and even death. Common examples of plants containing alkaloids include tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.
  • Glycosides: Glycosides are compounds found in many plants, including certain fruits and vegetables. They can be toxic when consumed in large amounts and can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and even cardiac arrest. One of the most well-known glycosides is amygdalin, which is found in apricot kernels and is known to be highly poisonous.
  • Terpenoids: Terpenoids are a large and diverse group of compounds found in many plants, including conifers and citrus fruits. They can be toxic in high doses and can cause symptoms such as respiratory depression, seizures, and even death. One example of a toxic terpenoid is taxol, which is found in the Pacific yew tree and is used to treat certain types of cancer.

Giant Honey Flower Poisonous Compounds

The giant honey flower (Gumamela in the Philippines) is a flowering plant that belongs to the Hibiscus family. It is commonly found in tropical countries and is often used for medicinal and ornamental purposes. However, some parts of the plant contain toxic compounds that can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested or inhaled.

The main toxic compounds found in the giant honey flower are anthocyanins and cyanogenic glycosides. Anthocyanins are pigments responsible for the plant’s bright red, pink, and purple flowers. While not toxic in small amounts, anthocyanins can cause gastrointestinal upset and skin irritation in some individuals.

Cyanogenic glycosides, on the other hand, are highly toxic compounds found in many plants, including the giant honey flower. When ingested, cyanogenic glycosides can produce cyanide, a deadly poison that interferes with cellular respiration. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, seizures, and even death.

Part of the Plant Amount of Cyanogenic Glycosides (mg/g)
Flowers 0.30
Leaves 8.26
Stems 0.10
Seeds 5.12

As shown in the table above, the leaves and seeds of the giant honey flower contain the highest amount of cyanogenic glycosides, making them the most toxic parts of the plant. It is important to avoid ingesting or inhaling any part of the plant, especially in high doses.

While the giant honey flower may be a beautiful and useful plant, it is important to be aware of its toxic compounds and handle it with care. As with any plant, it is crucial to research and understand any potential risks before handling or consuming it.

Symptoms of Poisoning from the Giant Honey Flower

While the giant honey flower may have some health benefits, consuming it in large amounts can lead to poisoning. Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Confusion or disorientation

If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming the giant honey flower, seek medical attention immediately. In severe cases, poisoning can lead to seizures, coma, or even death.

It’s important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary depending on a number of factors, including the amount of the flower consumed and the individual’s overall health and tolerance. While mild symptoms may subside on their own, more serious cases require immediate medical assistance.

Symptom Severity
Stomach pain and cramps Mild to moderate
Nausea and vomiting Mild to moderate
Diarrhea Mild to severe
Dizziness or feeling lightheaded Mild to moderate
Rapid heartbeat Moderate to severe
Difficulty breathing Severe
Headache Mild to moderate
Confusion or disorientation Severe

It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to consuming unfamiliar foods or plants. If you aren’t sure about the safety of the giant honey flower, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

Treatment of Honey Flower Poisoning

Being a poisonous flower, it is important to know the ways to treat honey flower poisoning. While it is always recommended to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you have been poisoned, there are a few ways in which you can help alleviate the symptoms of honey flower poisoning before medical help arrives.

  • Induce vomiting: If honey flower has been ingested, induced vomiting can be helpful in removing it from the system. However, this should not be done if the person is unconscious or experiencing seizures.
  • Drink water: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out the toxins from the body.
  • Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal can be consumed to bind the toxins and prevent them from getting absorbed by the body.

If left untreated, honey flower poisoning can lead to severe symptoms which can even prove to be fatal in some cases. These include seizures, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, and even coma. Thus, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately if you suspect you have been poisoned.

In a medical setting, the treatment for honey flower poisoning mainly focuses on alleviating the symptoms and preventing complications. This can include:

  • Administering oxygen therapy to help improve breathing.
  • Administering anticonvulsant medications to control seizures.
  • Using a ventilator to help with breathing if necessary.
Symptom Treatment
Difficulty in breathing Oxygen therapy, using a ventilator if necessary
Seizures Anticonvulsant medications
Dehydration Intravenous fluids to rehydrate the body

It should be noted that treatment for honey flower poisoning should always be carried out by a medical professional. If you suspect that someone has been poisoned by honey flower, do not attempt to treat the poisoning on your own but rather seek immediate medical attention.

Potential hazards of honey flower consumption

While the giant honey flower is a highly sought-after plant due to its sweet nectar and medicinal properties, there are several potential hazards associated with its consumption that must be taken into consideration.

  • Allergic reactions: Honey from the giant honey flower can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, particularly those who are allergic to other types of honey or pollen. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild itching or swelling to severe anaphylaxis and require immediate medical attention.
  • High-alkaline levels: The nectar of the giant honey flower has high-alkaline levels that make it dangerous to consume in large quantities. Excessive consumption can lead to acidosis, a condition in which the body’s pH levels become too alkaline, leading to a range of symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and muscle weakness.
  • Toxic compounds: Studies have shown that the giant honey flower contains toxic compounds that can cause adverse effects in the body if consumed in large quantities. These compounds can interfere with the nervous or digestive systems and cause significant harm to humans and animals alike.

Signs of poisoning

Consuming giant honey flower nectar in excessive amounts can result in poisoning, causing severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death in extreme cases. If you believe that you or someone you know may have consumed an excessive amount of honey flower nectar, lookout for these signs of poisoning:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe allergic reactions

Treatment for poisoning

If you or someone you know exhibits any of these symptoms after the consumption of giant honey flower or its honey form, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for poisoning can vary, depending on the severity of symptoms. In most mild cases, treatment may involve supportive care and administration of activated charcoal to absorb the toxins. More severe cases may require hospitalization, where treatment may involve intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, or even surgery to remove the honey from the stomach or intestines.


Points to consider Conclusion
The giant honey flower is a highly sought-after plant due to its sweet nectar and medicinal properties. Despite the plant’s benefits, there are potential hazards associated with consuming its nectar.
Allergic reactions, high-alkaline levels, and toxic compounds are among the potential hazards of honey flower consumption. Consumption in moderate amounts may be safe, but excessive consumption can cause poisoning, requiring medical attention.
Signs of poisoning include difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and abdominal pain, among others. Treatment of poisoning may vary depending on severity, with mild cases undergoing supportive care and more severe cases requiring hospitalization.

Overall, while the giant honey flower offers many potential benefits, it is essential to exercise caution and consume its products in moderation to avoid any adverse effects.

Comparison with Other Poisonous Flower Species

While the Giant Honey Flower is not poisonous, there are many other flowers that you should be cautious around. These are a few examples of other poisonous flower species and what you should know about them:

  • Oleander: All parts of this plant are toxic, and ingestion can lead to severe symptoms such as vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and even death.
  • Foxglove: This plant contains cardiac glycosides which, if ingested, can cause cardiac arrest. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and vision changes.
  • Daffodils: The bulbs of the daffodil contain lycorine, which is toxic if ingested. Symptoms include stomach pain, vomiting, and even convulsions.

While these flowers are undoubtedly beautiful, it is essential to handle them with care and to keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

Below is a table that compares the toxicity of these flowers:

Flower Toxic Parts Severity of Poisoning
Oleander All parts Severe
Foxglove Leaves, flowers, seeds Severe
Daffodils Bulbs Moderate

Before introducing any new plant into your home or garden, it’s important to do your research and understand any potential risks associated with it. This can help ensure the safety of both you and your loved ones.

FAQs about Is the Giant Honey Flower Poisonous

1. What is the Giant Honey Flower?

The Giant Honey Flower is a plant primarily found in Southeast Asia. It is a woody vine that produces large, bell-shaped flowers.

2. Is the Giant Honey Flower commonly used in cooking?

Yes, the Giant Honey Flower is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine as a flavoring agent and coloring agent for food and drinks.

3. Is the Giant Honey Flower poisonous?

The Giant Honey Flower’s leaves and stems contain compounds that are toxic to humans if ingested in large amounts. However, the flower itself and the honey produced from it are generally considered safe to consume.

4. Can the Giant Honey Flower cause an allergic reaction?

Some people may be allergic to the Giant Honey Flower’s pollen and nectar, which can cause symptoms like itching, swelling, and redness.

5. What are the symptoms of Giant Honey Flower poisoning?

Symptoms of Giant Honey Flower poisoning include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and abdominal pain.

6. What should I do if I suspect I’ve been poisoned by the Giant Honey Flower?

If you experience any symptoms of Giant Honey Flower poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

7. How can I ensure I’m using the Giant Honey Flower safely?

To ensure safe use of the Giant Honey Flower, only consume the flower and honey produced from it in moderation and be cautious of how much pollen and nectar you come into contact with.

Closing Title: Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to educate yourself on the potential dangers of the Giant Honey Flower. Always be mindful of what you consume and use caution when trying new foods or ingredients. We hope you visit again soon for more informative and engaging content.