Is Honeyvine Milkweed Poisonous To People? How to know?

Is Honeyvine Milkweed Poisonous To People? The toxicity of Honeyvine milkweed is a controversial topic among foragers, gardeners, and plant experts. This climbing variety of milkweed sparks debate over whether it contains dangerous levels of poison that can harm humans. While some claim that Honeyvine milkweed is relatively safe compared to other milkweeds, there is a lack of definitive research on its toxicity. Determining if Honeyvine milkweed is really poisonous to people requires analyzing the chemical compounds it produces, the potency of its sap, and documented cases of poisoning.

Getting down to the bottom of this plant’s potential risk can help promote safe identification and handling. In this article, we will examine the evidence and key factors that indicate whether ingesting or touching Honeyvine milkweed can truly be harmful and toxic for humans. Shedding light on this contentious native plant is crucial for anyone who encounters it in the wild or landscape.


The question of whether Honeyvine milkweed is poisonous or safe for human contact and consumption is the subject of much controversy and debate. Honeyvine milkweed contains cardiac glycosides and other compounds that are toxic to humans when ingested in sufficient quantities. However, there is disagreement over how poisonous this species is compared to other milkweeds and whether the toxins pose a meaningful risk to people who handle or ingest parts of the plant. 

Determining definitively whether Honeyvine milkweed is poisonous requires carefully analyzing the chemical makeup of the plant, documented health effects in humans, toxicity comparisons to related species, and the potency of the plant parts. Getting to the bottom of the potential dangers of Honeyvine milkweed and definitively answering the question “is honeyvine milkweed poisonous?” is crucial for promoting safe identification and foraging practices.

Is honeyvine milkweed poisonous?

  • Honeyvine milkweed contains toxic cardiac glycosides like corotoxinoside, uzarigenin, and periplocigenin, which can cause heart rhythm disturbances if ingested
  • The milky sap in particular contains high concentrations of these poisonous compounds and can cause toxicity if it contacts eyes, mouth, or skin.
  • Other toxic compounds found in Honeyvine milkweed include pyrrolizidine alkaloids, triterpenoid saponins, and anolides, which can damage organs.
  • The roots, leaves, stems, and sap are the most poisonous parts, with the sap carrying the highest toxin content.
  • Livestock and animals have been poisoned from grazing on Honeyvine milkweed.
  • There is a lack of definitive research comparing Honeyvine toxicity to other milkweed species.
  • While some argue Honeyvine is less toxic than other milkweeds, the presence of multiple poisonous compounds indicates it can still cause poisoning at certain doses.
  • Precautions are recommended when handling Honeyvine milkweed due to its potential toxicity to humans through ingestion or contact.
is honeyvine milkweed poisonous

Toxic Compounds

Honeyvine milkweed contains several poisonous compounds that make it potentially toxic to humans, raising the question “is honeyvine milkweed poisonous?”. The main toxins found in the plant’s tissues are cardiac glycosides such as corotoxinoside, uzarigenin, and periplocigenin. These cardiac glycosides inhibit normal heart function and cause arrhythmias, low blood pressure, and heart block when ingested. Additional toxins present include monocrotaline pyrrolizidine alkaloids, triterpenoid saponins, and anolides, which can damage the liver, kidneys, and other organs. 

The concentrations and combinations of these toxic compounds contribute to the potency and danger of Honeyvine milkweed. While a definitive toxicity comparison to other milkweed species is lacking, the presence of these toxins in notable amounts indicates Honeyvine milkweed can cause poisoning if plant parts are ingested or come in contact with skin, eyes, or mouth. Understanding the specific poisons found throughout this plant is key to determining if honeyvine milkweed is poisonous and the potential risks it poses to humans.

Poisonous Plant Parts

Certain parts of the Honeyvine milkweed plant contain higher concentrations of toxic compounds, making them more dangerous if handled or ingested. The roots, leaves, stems, and especially the milky white sap have the highest amounts of cardiac glycosides, alkaloids, and other poisonous substances. The sap contains the largest amounts of toxins and can cause poisoning through skin contact or if introduced to eyes and mucous membranes. Ingesting the leaves and stems can also introduce dangerous levels of toxins and make people sick.

Handling the roots and below-ground portions also poses a risk due to the toxins accumulated in those tissues. Understanding which Honeyvine milkweed plant parts are most poisonous is important when asking the question “is honeyvine milkweed poisonous?” Clearly, the sap, roots, leaves, and stems contain significant toxins and warrant caution when encountered to avoid potentially toxic plant exposure through handling and accidental ingestion.

Read more articles about question “is honeyvine milkweed poisonous”: https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/yardandgarden/honeyvine-a-native-plant-that-can-be-both-friend-and-foe/

FAQs related to “is honeyvine milkweed poisonous”

What makes honeyvine milkweed poisonous?

Honeyvine milkweed contains several toxic compounds like cardiac glycosides, alkaloids, saponins and anolides that can cause poisoning if ingested or absorbed through the skin. The milky sap contains the highest concentrations.

What parts of the honeyvine milkweed plant are most poisonous?

The roots, leaves, stems, and especially the white sap contain the highest levels of toxins. The sap can cause skin irritation and poisoning.


In conclusion, thorough examination of Honeyvine milkweed’s chemical makeup, toxic plant parts, and health effects points to this species containing potentially dangerous levels of poisonous compounds. While the toxicity compared to other milkweeds requires more research, the cardiac glycosides, alkaloids, saponins, and anolides found in Honeyvine’s tissues and sap can clearly cause adverse reactions and poisoning when ingested or absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes.

The roots, leaves, stems, and milky sap in particular contain high enough volumes of toxins to pose a legitimate risk to human health and safely answer the pressing question “is honeyvine milkweed poisonous?” with a resounding yes. Caution and protective handling are warranted for any encounters with this plant to avoid hazardous exposure. Until more definitive trials determine non-toxic utilization, Honeyvine milkweed should be considered too poisonous for human ingestion and unsafe for unprotected skin contact due to the identified poisons and documented poisonings. Anyone who handles this plant is advised to take proper precautions and positively identify it to prevent potentially dangerous contact with toxic compounds. 

You can also learn more about locust tree thorns poisonous.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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