Allergenic and Toxic Compounds in Ornamental Plants - A review

Cristina Cerasela ARSENE, Lucia DRAGHIA


Various biosynthesised compounds from ornamental plants can be harmful to man, throughout a plant’s entire life cycle or only during certain moments, present in all of its organs or restricted only to some. Interdisciplinary research regarding plant toxins and allergens are being conducted worldwide, aiming to prevent the production of diseases. The research aimed to phytochemically classify vegetal compounds with toxic and allergenic characteristics found in ornamental plants, to identify the main pathogenic pathways through which these compounds act and to come up with recommendations regarding valorification of these plants. The study focuses on ornamental plants in both spontaneous and cultivated flora, in protected or unprotected spaces, commonly met in Romania. The current review includes vegetal allergens in the toxic vegetal substances group, from the perspective of modern definitions of toxicity. Based on phytochemical criteria, a classification of toxic vegetal compounds (including allergens) was achieved. Common native toxic ornamentals from our habitat are tabulated. Some non-native species were included on the basis of their high presence as house plants. Correlated to the commercial practices in Romania, the risks for ambient health were identified, both at the work place, at home and in the public space. Ornamentals can be dangerous to man’s health. The majority of toxic and allergenic substances (excluding pollens) are secondary metabolism compounds. Given these risk factors to health, it is necessary to impose health and safety regulations at work, to inform the general population regarding potential negative effects and to commercialize plants with labels which should contain warnings about the risk of diseases or the aggravation of existing ones.


allergenicity; biosecurity; ornamental plants; pathogenicity; toxicity

Full Text:



University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
3-5 Manastur St., 400372 Cluj-Napoca
Tel: +40-264-596.384 | Fax: +40-264-593.792