So How Poisonous Are Flowers, Really?

Decorating By brnrlvr Updated 26 May 2008 , 4:37pm by marthajo1

brnrlvr Posted 25 May 2008 , 2:22am
post #1 of 36

I deliver a cake today and the florist is still there so I go over and ask for the cake flowers. She says she'll put them on later. I hem and haw a little wanting to say" you're not going to touch my four tiered square buttercream cake I just spent hours getting smooth!" but instead I say, I need a picture so I wanted to put them on now. So she goes over and puts them on... cutting the stems on the spot and sticking them straight in the cake!! I say, "are you not going to wrap the stems?" and she says, don't worry, they're organic.

I don't care if there were no pestisides used on them, aren't some flowers themself poisonous?? Do I really need to wrap all stems? They were roses and stargazer type lillies.

35 replies
levinea Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:19am
post #2 of 36

I just had a conversation about this with my MIL, who works at a plant nursery, because I was curious about what I needed to do to safely stick real flowers on my cakes. She said it depends on the flower, and for some flowers, parts of them are poisonous but other parts are not. I think most roses are safe for people, as are the stargazer lillies. Both can be poisonous to animals though, and that makes me nervous enough to never want to set those flowers right on a cake or poke the stems through without wrapping them first.

brnrlvr Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:28am
post #3 of 36

Interesting. Thanks!

SO who do you think will get sued if someone gets sick? The florist for putting them on not wrapped, or the cake person because it is their cake?

alicegop Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:30am
post #4 of 36

I am no expert... I just stick them in... crossing my fingers. Does anyone know the answer... yes some flowers are poisonous, but I don't expect anyone to actually eat them...

AZCakeGirl Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:39am
post #5 of 36

You should always make sure that they are not poisonous & even then, it is a good idea to put a barrier of wax paper in between the flowers & the cake. Even if the flowers themselves are not eaten, they have touched the cake & somebody is for sure going to eat the cake. You wouldn't want them to get sick because the cake came in contact with a poisonous flower!

mrsbink Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:49am
post #6 of 36

outside of the poisonous issue, there is also the issue of water. Fresh flowers and their stems have water in them that could leak onto or into your cake. I would want to protect from that also.

playingwithsugar Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:54am
post #7 of 36

I wonder why people would risk putting fresh flowers even near a cake, especially this time of year.

People who suffer from allergies to pollen can have severe reactions if pollen is ingested, including swelling of the trachea and bronchial passages.

And no florist is ever going to convince me that their organic flowers don't have pollen in them. There are very few species of flowers which do not produce pollen.

And just an FYI - there are tons of references to poisonous flowers available on the Internet. You might want to copy and paste a list onto a word Doc for offline reference when discussing this subject with future clients.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

marthajo1 Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:15am
post #8 of 36

my almost 2 yr. old was caught chewing on a stem from a calla lilly. I didn't think much about it... took it away and told her NO! Then after about 20 minutes she started pulling on and pointing to her tongue and into her mouth. She kept saying hurts. So I did a search for side effects calla lilly.... yep burning of mouth and throat.... plus a bunch of other things like vomiting and diahrea plus in rare cases it can cause swelling severe enough to stop the ability to breathe!! I gave her milk and she was fine but..... if she had been sensitive to it..... Scary! BTW- one of the poisons in cala lillies is the same stuff in bleach!

My vote-- NOT worth the risk.... don't stick em in the cake!

thedessertdiva Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:16am
post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by alicegop

I am no expert... I just stick them in... crossing my fingers. Does anyone know the answer... yes some flowers are poisonous, but I don't expect anyone to actually eat them...




Just because no one will stick the actual flower in their mouth, doesnt clear them from some kind of illness due to the toxicity of the flower. If the flower is poisionus or toxic, DO NOT insert it into or even place on or near the cake. The toxins can transfer into the cake itself, and even if it is removed, the cake is now contaminated and should not be eaten.

Some choose to place the flowers in a plastic device that hold them in the cake, even this is nerve racking to me. If there is even the littlest slight chance that the flower is toxic, best to go with gumpaste or even a nice non-toxic silk flower (just make sure that the dye does not run into the icing-test this before habd by laying the flower in the icing for a day or so and see what happens).

thumbs_up.gif

alicegop Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:33am
post #10 of 36

All very good points.... Good thing I discovered recently all the cool looking gumpaste flowers that decopac sells

thedessertdiva Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:45am
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by alicegop

All very good points.... Good thing I discovered recently all the cool looking gumpaste flowers that decopac sells




Me too!!

I guess I never flipped to the back end of the catalog...lol

indydebi Posted 25 May 2008 , 11:13am
post #12 of 36

while at the Bakers Convention in Vegas last Sept, I found out it is illegal in Australia to penetrate the cake with flowers. It was said an experiment was ran ..... put roses (for example) in a vase of water with red food coloring. Then put that flower(s) in a cake. Cut the cake and see how the red food coloring seeped into the cake. This is the same result when flowers are in a vase of water, filled with dirt and other contaminates that you don't want on your cake. Also heard a story about someone wanting to put poinsettas on a cake. ( icon_eek.gif )

My FAQ page, my Terms of Agreement and my conversations with brides STRONGLY encourage silk florals!

chutzpah Posted 25 May 2008 , 11:31am
post #13 of 36

Actually, it's a myth that poinsettias are poisonous! All parts of the plant are non-toxic.

I put fresh flowers on cakes all the time. People here are so cheap that they won't pay for GP flowers. I make sure all stems are well-wrapped and there is parchment between the flower and the cake.

Even if flowers are non-toxic I still wouldn't want to drink the water in the vase where they've been.

indydebi Posted 25 May 2008 , 11:37am
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chutzpah

Actually, it's a myth that poinsettias are poisonous! All parts of the plant are non-toxic.



I just did a search on this and came up with as many articles saying yes-poisonous as were the ones that said no-they-are-safe. icon_confused.gif

I guess when I see a florist eat one, I'll convert! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

7yyrt Posted 25 May 2008 , 1:29pm
post #15 of 36

Poinsettias are listed as an irritant, not as poisonous. Still I like to make sugar ones for a cake, not use fresh ones.

AZCakeGirl Posted 25 May 2008 , 2:34pm
post #16 of 36

I definitely prefer using silk flowers since they are a lot easier to work with, but I have also used fresh flowers when the bride has requested it.

I found an article a long time ago about poisonous flowers on cakes & had it saved in my computer. I tried to attach it but for some reason it's not letting me do it, so below is the link where I originally obtained it from. Please keep in mind though, I have not verified any information that it contains. I figured it was appropriate for the topic though..........................

Go here: http://www.cakesunlimited.net/html/body_poisonous_flowers.html

costumeczar Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:16pm
post #17 of 36

I think that the bigger issue is the amount of pesticides and fertilizers (and just plain dirt) that flowers have on them. I have a friend who used to work in a wholesale florist, and she says that with the amount of handling, dropping on the floor and sneezing-on that flowers get while they're being moved around, she'd never put them on a cake. Not only that, but a florist I work with tells brides not to use fresh flowers on the cakes because a lot of them come from South America, where they don't have rules about what types of materials can be used as fertilizers, and human waste is acceptable as fertilizer in a lot of places there. icon_eek.gif It's just gross...Having said that, I'll put flowers on a cake IF I'm the one who does it, and there's a good barrier between the flower and the cake. I also put some wires into a cake yesterday, and I made sure that they were encased in plastic drinking straws too, so for me it's more a matter of keeping the non-foodsafe items from touching the cake. (But I won't put any poisonous or irritant flowers on a cake at all.)

vrmcc1 Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:27pm
post #18 of 36

Wilton sells flower spikes. http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E312C10-475A-BAC0-5D34A3D6D0BDDF27&fid=3E331274-475A-BAC0-5041EF53F94DDB26

you can put these into your cake then the florist can put the flower into the spike. This also keeps the flowers where YOU want them not where the florist thinks they look good.

brnrlvr Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:33pm
post #19 of 36

Has anyone had a guest get sick from the flowers on the cake or heard of any cases? And who do you think would get sued? the florist or the cake maker?

CakeMommie Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:34pm
post #20 of 36

Why not go gumpaste flowers or nothing at all? It seems like the only logical, non-toxic alternative for me. If you use fresh flowers, you get issues with dirt, pesticides, poisonous flowers, etc. Using silk flowers can bleed dyes into the cake, and I think some of those can be hazardous because I've read not to use ribbon on the cake for that very reason. I don't think we can be guaranteed the dyes are non-toxic since most of those things are imported. If my clients want flowers, I insist they use sugar flowers, or I won't put flowers on at all. Its not worth the risk of making someone ill, IMO.

dragonflydreams Posted 25 May 2008 , 3:55pm
post #21 of 36

. . . here is another alternative for those that want to use fresh flowers (granted it would not work for every application) . . . http://www.kathleenscakes.com/

loriemoms Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:08pm
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonflydreams

. . . here is another alternative for those that want to use fresh flowers (granted it would not work for every application) . . . http://www.kathleenscakes.com/




that is cool..although she doesnt sell then. Anyone seen them online?

I have put hundreds of flowers on cakes, and never had anyone call to say anyone got sick. Although I always use a piece of parchment paper under the flowers and some flowers have made arrangements for me in those little green things that I also put on either a plastic cake seperator or parchment paper.

dragonflydreams Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:13pm
post #23 of 36

. . . there is a "available here" on the site (off to the left) . . .

CakeDiane Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:14pm
post #24 of 36

That Cake Vase is SO cool! I gotta find me one of them!!

For those of you who wrap your stems before putting in the cake, what do you wrap them with? The same florist tape used in making gumpaste flowers?

loriemoms Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:54pm
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonflydreams

. . . there is a "available here" on the site (off to the left) . . .




Unfortantly, its just a list of retailers. No web sites and none of them are any where near me!

chutzpah Posted 25 May 2008 , 4:55pm
post #26 of 36

Well, google those retailers and see if they have websites and the call or e-mail and see if you can buy one. Sheesh!

7yyrt Posted 25 May 2008 , 8:08pm
post #27 of 36

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=680365
The specialty cake topper went up for sale on QVC last week and is also sold at http://www.qvc.com/
The CakeVase comes in three sizes: 8- and 6-inch circles and an 8-inch ring that leaves room to put candles in the middle of the cake. The set of three sells for $13.93.

chutzpah Posted 25 May 2008 , 8:13pm
post #28 of 36

They look pretty interesting. They sure can fancy up a cake!

marthajo1 Posted 26 May 2008 , 3:34am
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chutzpah

......

Even if flowers are non-toxic I still wouldn't want to drink the water in the vase where they've been.




icon_lol.gif This is great! I wouldn't either!


That red dye thing is interesting too!

Petit-four Posted 26 May 2008 , 2:17pm
post #30 of 36

Here'e an article describing the symptoms that come from some of the more toxic plants:

http://green-magazine.blogspot.com/2007/10/beautiful-but-deadly-top-ten-poisonous.html

Would one have to eat a good amount, in some cases? Yes. In some cases, simply handling the flowers can cause a rash.

Perhaps what is comes down to, is: as cake designers, we are "paid" to be knowledgeable about food safety. We wash our counters and equipment. We don't lick the spatula. icon_rolleyes.gif

A florist is working in entirely different conditions. They advise clients on how to keep flowers looking fresh as long as possible, as well as color and arrangement. They work in places with dirt, pesticides, wire scraps, and scissors that cut everything from manure packaging to floral wire. icon_wink.gif

I suppose as the "food" end of the contract, we need to take the best precautions possible to make sure our product is safe to eat. As cake people it is helpful to step in (when possible) to use the barriers (plates, plastic sheets, etc.) described to eliminate direct contact. (And I know, sometimes these things are done without our control.)

OK, end of sermon! thumbs_up.gif

Edited for spelling.

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