Photo by Carol Lawrence 5/30/03

If you’ve got an adventurous pup, it’s important to know what wildflowers can be harmful to them. Canine interaction with some of Colorado’s flowers can result in nasty things like convulsions, vomiting blood, and even death. Here’s a short list of a few that you should be on the lookout for in the Centennial State.

Keep in mind that appearance can vary greatly from images shown due to color, stage of growth, etc. Links within this article will show examples of appearance and give you additional helpful information for spotting these flowers.

1. Larkspur

Both the plant and the seed are dangerous when it comes to larkspur, capable of causing convulsions and death. This one is also toxic to humans and commonly referred to by the official name of the flower genus – Delphinium.

Larkspur typically flowers between June and July and can often be recognized by its purplish-blue color. That being said, they can also be red, yellow, or white. They tend to thrive at locations above 7,000 feet in elevation where snowmelt gives them plenty of moisture.

2. Death Camas

Technically called toxicoscordium venenosum, Death Camas flowers are recognizable thanks to their cream/white color and cluster growth. All parts of this plant area poisonous, with consumption possibly fatal. Other side effects of consumption include muscle spasms, abdominal pain, and vomiting blood.

The Death Camas can be found in Colorado’s meadows and on rocky slopes. Humans shouldn’t touch this one either.

3. Western Water Hemlock

A plant that tends to grow in wet environments, the western water hemlock is often found along Colorado’s streams, in marshes, and in meadows. By many accounts, the plant is considered to be the most poisonous in North America, capable of having a major negative impact on the nervous system in both humans and their pets. Extremely small amounts of the toxin found mostly in the roots first leads to a foaming mouth before seizures and potential death.

It’s also worth noting that animals seem to find the smell of this plant appetizing.

4. Locoweed

A plant that produces a toxin called swainsonine, locoweed is often considered to be the most widespread poisonous plant concern in the US West. Generally, grazing livestock are most at risk for encountering this plant, though adventurous canines in Colorado are likely to encounter it, as well. In small amounts, symptoms are similar to an upset stomach. In consistent amounts, consumption of this plant can be deadly to canines, with additional symptoms including congestive heart failure, loss of body control, and tremors.

With an appearance that’s similar to sweet peas, locoweed can be purple, yellow, white, or blue. Be on the lookout for this one from spring to fall. A lot of the time, locoweed tends to be found on grassy hillsides.

5. Lupine

A wildflower that blooms in the early summer, lupine can reach up to 3 feet tall, is often brightly colored, and thrives in moist, sunny locations. Colorado’s snowmelt tends to really help this plant grow.

While most cases of lupine poisoning occur among cattle, it can be dangerous for your dog to consume this wildflower, as well. Symptoms include frothing at the mouth, convulsions, liver issues, and respiratory paralysis resulting in death.


Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. He also writes about outdoor recreation, travel news, and more. In his spare time, he loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike.

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