Daffodils can be dangerous and poisonous if ingested orally. That is why Public Health England urges supermarkets to keep daffodils away from food in a bid to prevent consumers mistakenly eating the poisonous plant that may look more like Chinese vegetables or onions.
In a letter (Steps to avoid daffodil poisonings this spring) that was distributed to major stores and supermarket, Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection at Public Health England said that this spring, it can be an emergency health risk if people would get daffodils thinking it is an onion or a vegetable popular in China.
"Each spring stores such as yours provide a wide selection of flowers, particularly cut daffodils and daffodil bulbs. Unfortunately there are rare occasions when the bulbs are mistaken for onions, and the stems or leaves are mistaken for a type of vegetable popular in China," he added.
Daffodils or Narcissus is a type of flower that grows from a bulb (just like onions) and it is a known poisonous plant. In fact, all parts of the flower contain alkaloid lycorine. The bulb contains the highest amount of the compound.
British Colombia Drug and Poison Information Center (BC DIPC) reports that daffodil poisoning may cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract with symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Subsequently, ingestion of the bulb may cause a burning sensation or irritation to the mouth and throat due to its calcium oxalate crystals content.
According to BBC News, Prof. Cosford said, "We are asking you, along with all other major supermarkets, to ensure that daffodils, both the bulbs from which they sprout and the cut variety too, are displayed well away from the produce or fruit and vegetable area."
Daffodil poisoning isn't new in the media scene especially on the part where it is mistaken for onions. In a 2009 incident in a primary school in Suffolk, England, students from the Gorseland Primary School used onions grown in the school's own garden to make soup for a project. They were not aware that a daffodil bulb was included and the students vomited and had stomach cramps.
The first case reported about daffodil poisoning traces back to 1924 when four people got poisoned as reported by The Poison Garden UK due to mistakenly putting a daffodil bulb to their dinner. Many other cases were reported. In fact, BBC news reported 27 daffodil poisoning in England the previous year.