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Are water lilies poisonous to humans and pets?

Water lilies are excellent pond plants that improve the appeal of your home while offering several other benefits to your aquatic environment. However, if you, your pets, or animals are accessing the ponds filled with lilies, you might have cause for concern. After, all several varieties are poisonous.

Water lilies are not poisonous to humans and horses. However, they can be toxic to cats and dogs. Note that the level of toxicity differs depending on the amount consumed, part of the plant ingested, among other factors.

But before going ahead and uprooting all these beautiful plants, it is good to know first to what extent water lilies are toxic. Moreover, you need to understand the effect they can have on pets, animals, humans, and even the aquatic environment.

Below, we have compiled all the information you need on water lilies, and how they affect various organisms.

An overview of water lilies

Water lilies are a species of freshwater plants. There are more than 50 species of these plants, which grow in tropical and temperate climatic regions. They grow in garden ponds, natural ponds, landscape water bodies, and other freshwater bodies.

The most popular water lilies have white flowers, though other species sport a variety of colors such as reddish, pink, blue, yellow, and hybrid colors.

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Dangers of water lilies

Water lilies are known around the world for, among other things, being toxic. Some species, for example, the Easter Lily, Japanese Lily, Tiger Lily, and the Star Lily are very poisonous, and can even be fatal when ingested by pets, animals, and human beings.

So, are water lilies as toxic as their namesakes? The answer is Yes and No! Water lilies are not true lilies; they only have “lily” in their name. Therefore, most of them are not poisonous. However, some species, for example, the yellow and the tuberous water lilies are known to be toxic.

Here is a look at how these water plants can affect various animals, as well as human beings

Are water lilies poisonous to dogs?

Most water lilies (aside from the poisonous ones) are not outright dangerous to dogs in that they will rarely kill them. However, if your dog ingests too much of these plants, they can cause a toxic reaction, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, among other symptoms.

Are water lilies poisonous to cats?

True lilies and cats don’t mix; some common garden lilies are even poisonous to cats. However, when it comes to water lilies, the situation is different.

Most of the pond plants are benign to cats. However, some might contain toxins, which can cause vomiting, stomach upset, mouth and throat distress, and other reactions if ingested.

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Are water lilies poisonous to horses?

Since they are not true lilies, water lilies are not poisonous to horses. However, given that some species are known to contain toxins, you should always be cautious when letting your horses drink from a pond with lilies.

Ensure that the particular species is not toxic, and if in doubt, seek advice from your veterinarian.

Are water lilies poisonous to human beings?

What about human beings? Should you be concerned for your children where water lilies are concerned? Aside from the poisonous water lilies, several other species of these pond plants are not known to be dangerous.

In fact, some even have beneficial uses – from edible food to medicine for sore throats and diarrhea.


With lilies known for their toxicity, it is always better to play safe where your pets, animals, and children are concerned. Luckily, most water lilies are not dangerous. However, certain species are toxic. On top of that, even the seeming safe ones can contain toxins.

However, you should not write them off just yet. Water lilies are very beneficial in that they help maintain a balanced eco-system. They are also visually appealing and can add beauty to your home. On top of that, some species are used as food as well as medicine.

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and not veterinary or medical advice. If you think your child or pet has eaten something potentially toxic, seek immediate treatment.

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