Bleeding Heart Plant Poisonous


The Bleeding Heart Plant or Dicentra spectabilis (dy-SEN-truh, speck-TAB-ih-liss) is a pretty herbaceous perennial hailing from Japan, Korea, Siberia, and China. 

It is a popular plant in colder areas of the United States because it can tolerate harsh winters and make a colorful and welcome comeback early in the springtime, year after year. However, have you ever wondered if the Bleeding Heart plant is poisonous?

Is the Bleeding Heart Plant is it poisonousIs the Bleeding Heart Plant is it poisonous

How Can You Recognize Bleeding Heart Plant? 

You may experience some confusion as to exactly what a Bleeding Heart Plant is because it goes by several other common names, including: 

  • Dutchman’s Breeches
  • Butterfly Banner
  • Kitten Breeches
  • White Eardrops
  • Soldier’s Cap
  • Steer’s Head
  • Dicentra

You’ll recognize this plant by its heart-shaped pink, fuchsia, and white blossoms, and it’s important you do recognize it because all parts of this plant can present a hazard to your dog, cat, and children if ingested. 

Additionally, these plants are toxic to horses and livestock because of the isoquinoline alkaloids they contain. 

What Parts Of The Plant Are Poisonous or Toxic?

All parts of the plant are toxic when ingested. 

Touching or handling the plant may also cause skin irritation. 

It is probably best to treat the Bleeding Heart as you would poison oak or sumac?

What Symptoms Does Bleeding Heart Plant Poisoning Cause? 

Animals or people who ingest Bleeding Heart Plant may experience 

  • Respiratory problems
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sudden clumsiness
  • Sudden lethargy
  • Dermatitis
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

Luckily, this is not an especially tasty plant, and ingesting much (or any) of it is unlikely. 

Even so, it is wise to know the early symptoms and keep an eye out for them because, if left untreated, isoquinoline alkaloid toxicity can lead to kidney and liver damage. 

Even a small amount of these substances can lead to serious complications, so if you believe your pet has eaten Bleeding Heart Plant, offer water right away and observe carefully. 

If you see any symptoms, call your vet. 

If you believe your child has ingested the plant, see your pediatrician.

Of course, prevention is preferable to treatment, so the wisest course of action is to keep animals and children away from this plant altogether. 

When you are visiting an unfamiliar yard or park, be sure to look around and identify Bleeding Heart Plant and any other potentially toxic plants before allowing your kids or pets to run free. 

How To Protect Yourself While Handling The Bleeding Heart Plant

Although there do not appear to be any specific warnings associated with handling this plant, it only makes sense to wear gloves, eye protection, and long sleeves when pruning and planting Bleeding Heart Plant. 

Contact with the sap could cause irritation. 

Furthermore, you can’t go wrong if you avoid burning this plant and/or breathing the resulting fumes.

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