Friday, October 9, 2009

Beware the Deadly Daylily!

In a post last July, I named the Orange Daylilies that grow in my front yard as something that makes me happy. Every once in a while they're just there, effortlessly blooming, all on their own . . .

When the flowers die and the long leaves become scraggly, I cut them back and before I know it, the flower is there again, as beautiful as before.

Well . . . yesterday the Husband takes the Kitten to the Vet for her annual visit. In the vet's office is a poster of plants poisonous to pets and pictured on that poster is our lovely friend, Orange Daylily or Hemerocalis fulva.

How poisonous is it? According to the Kitten's doctor, ingesting the leaves or flowers will kill a cat. But the plants have been our yard for years. The Kitten's roamed among them for over three years now. We've been lucky the vet says. In fact, a cat can be poisoned by just rubbing against the plant and later licking pollen from her fur. According to this article, without treatment, cats will quickly die of kidney failure. According to that same article, the whole lilium family is toxic to cats.

We've been very lucky indeed. Plus, we have a whole neighborhood of cat visitors that have also been lucky.

Today the daylilies were removed - they were in full bloom, too. I went to work in the morning and when I returned they were gone. The Husband is not one to waste time, especially when it comes to the Kitten.

I didn't even say goodbye.


NV said...

Wow! Good to know. Glad no one got hurt. Sucks though that such beauty can be so deadly.

Jan Marie said...

Many people confuse the day lily with lilies. They are not from the same family.

Day lilies are from the family Hemerocalidaceae.

Lilies are from the family Liliaceae. Don't confuse this with the Allium family which includes garlic onions, etc.

Lilies and day lilies are two totally different plants. The easiest way to determine if you have a lily or a day lily is a lily or those from the genus lilum
are bulbs. Day lilies grow from a clumps of thin rhizome roots with tubers. Day lily flowers last one day. The photo in your post looks like a day lily but I can't see the stems and leaves, so I can't be sure.

I haven't been able to find anything that say day lilies are poisonous but in fact have found articles saying the flowers are edible. I have though found article saying that lilies are to a varying degree poisonous.

To make matters worse there is a difference between lilies. Some are Oriental lilies, some are Asiatic lilies, and some people call all lily looking flowers Tiger lilies which I believe to be Oriental lilies that are orange and have spots on the petals.

I am now totally confused. I think I will send a couple of emails to some day lilies organizations and see if they can give me any clarification on this. I am concerned because I have cats and I have quite a day lily collection. I have blogged about my day lily collection on my garden blog.

Thanks for the heads up and I am keeping my fingers crossed that day lilies are safe.


Pauline Wiles said...

Wow, didn't know about this. I did know that lily pollen, when it falls off the cut flowers inside your home, is a pain and can stain, but I didn't realize there were actual dangers for animals.

Jan Marie said...

I sent several emails and received replies. All said the same lilies are not harmful to cats but parts of the lilies not day lilies can be poisonous.

The following is an excerpt from one of the emails I received, she contacted many day lilies pros to see if any of them had heard of this.

I have received responses from the pros.........over 30 of them to be exact and many of their cats nibble on young tender daylilies without any harm whatsoever. Others say their cats don't eat their plants in the garden. However it is apparently a known fact that the Easter Lily (bulb lilium) "is" poisonous. Of course that would include all Oriental bulb lilies. This is not the same family of perennials as hemerocallis (daylilies) however. I haven't time to go to those studies online but from ALL the other responses I received I feel 99% convinced that daylilies are "harmless" to cats.

I hope that helps to clear up the day lily poisoning question. Lilies are poisonous but day lilies are not lilies. I would hate for more people to pull up their day lilies if they do not have to or want to.

Many plants have poisonous parts rhubarb and poinsettia are two that come to mind right away.

I think the biggest problem with lilies is the staining problem that Struggler mentioned. That is why florist cut off the stamen when using lilies in floral arrangements.

Why S? said...

Jan, thanks for your contribution. I've expanded a little in a later post. This lily situation is a lot more confusing than I would have thought.

Anonymous said...

Day lilies can cause kidney failure, however we have never had a cat come into our diagnostic lab having died from eating day lilies. It seems to be Easter Lilies that are the most common problem. Here is a link to the ASPCA Poison Control website for any and all cat/dog toxins.

They have several links to the most dangerous house plants and most common toxins your animal loves to find. Hope this helps everyone - Dr. Farmer.