One of the major complaints among florists is what’s known as “daffodil itch.” Cut down too many daffodils and they will make you pay for it. And they’ll accomplish this by using the major component of kidney stones.

Daffodils are poisonous. This usually isn’t a problem, because people don’t usually try to eat daffodils. Usually. Fortunately, that isn’t daffodils only offensive weapon. Inside the stems of daffodils are crystals of calcium oxalate. Some of you probably know that “crystals of calcium oxalate” is code for “kidney stones.” Calcium oxalate is the main component of the hardened crystals that spend days traveling around a person’s kidney before tearing out through their urethra in what is universally acknowledged as one of the most painful medical conditions a human being can go through.


Turns out they’re also painful outside the body. Calcium oxalate causes the skin to itch and turn red, then turn into deeply cracked, thickened scales. It’s not bad for people who just pluck a few flowers from the garden, but for people with regular exposure to daffodils—like florists, gardeners, and nursery-workers—it becomes a regular medical complaint. It even has its own name, daffodil itch.

Sound normal, but it’s kind of worrying when you think about it. Daffodils are not only unfazed by the most painful thing that can happen to us, but they specifically create it as a chemical weapon that they can use against us. Next thing you know they’ll be construction their own ingrown toenails and launching them into our eyes.

Image: James Petts

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