Are Bonsai Trees Poisonous to Humans?

Bonsai trees can be poisonous to humans depending on which species of tree is chosen. There are different types of trees used for the art of Bonsai, some that are safe and others that are poisonous to humans as well as animals.

You are excited to expand your plant family, but you are concerned that the plant you want may be harmful to yourself and the people around you. You are looking into buying a Bonsai Tree, but are these plants poisonous to humans? 

If you are interested in the art of Bonsai and want one that is not poisonous, you can be sure to pick a plant that is not harmful to humans. Keep reading to learn about the common types of bonsai trees and which ones are safe versus poisonous to humans. 

Which Types of Bonsai Trees are Poisonous to Humans?

bonsai tree

Whether you are looking for a challenge by taking care of a poisonous tree or trying to decide which species to stay away from, there are several Bonsai trees that are toxic and can be harmful if not taken care of properly.

Beautiful Box Bonsai Leaves Make You Sick

This species of tree is common among the art of Bonsai. However, they are poisonous to humans, so they must be handled carefully. The tree’s leaves can cause side effects such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Respiratory paralysis 

Contact with skin can cause rashes, so it is important to handle this type of Bonsai tree carefully. Wearing gloves when coming into contact with the leaves can help to protect you from developing a rash. 

Cotoneaster Bonsai Trees are High in Toxicity

The Cotoneaster is a kind of Bonsai tree that is high in toxicity. If their leaves, berries, and flowers are ingested in large amounts, it can cause serious issues to vital organs including:

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Brain

The risk for children is greater than adults, however, it depends on the amount that is consumed.

Ficus Bonsai Sap Can Cause Many Symptoms

Ficus trees have many different species. The most common used in Bonsai is the Ficus Microcarpa and the Ficus Benjamina. This species of Bonsai tree is poisonous due to the sap it produces which can cause:

  • Dermatitis
  • Allergic reactions
  • Itchy eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritation with redness and stinging

This species of Bonsai should be handled with care to ensure the sap does not come into contact with skin. 

Which Types of Bonsai Trees are Safe for Humans?

Chinese Banyan Bonsai

There may be some harmful Bonsai trees that are poisonous to humans, but that doesn’t have to stop you from owning one. If you are looking for a kind of Bonsai tree that is completely safe for humans to own, here are a few that work well: 

Japanese Maple Tree Safe for Humans and Animals 

This is a common species used for Bonsai trees. There is no indication that any part of the Japanese Maple tree is poisonous to humans or animals. The leaves are even eaten in some Japanese dishes and have no negative health effects. 

Pomegranate Bonsai Trees Provide Edible Fruit 

Pomegranate trees produce fruit that is edible for humans if they are properly taken care of. They should be grown outdoors unless the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. A pomegranate tree needs a lot of sunlight to thrive.

Cherry Laurel is a Great Pick for a Bonsai Tree

Another Bonsai tree that produces fruits is the Cherry Laurel. Their blossoms turn into fruit that is edible. They should be kept outside in partial shade or sunlight. 

The Fig Bonsai Tree is Perfect for Those Starting Out

The fig is a great Bonsai tree for beginners. This tree provides fruit that is edible in the spring and summer. They should be grown in warmer climates or with growing lights since they need sun for most of the year. 

Bonsai Trees Can Have a Negative Effect on Human Health 

bonsai garden

Fortunately, there are several common types of trees used for the art of Bonsai, making it easier to find ones that are not poisonous to humans. However, in some cases, Bonsai trees can be harmful to humans. There are a few ways a Bonsai tree may affect your health negatively, whether they are poisonous or not.

Insect infestation is a Downside to Owning a Bonsai Tree

This can be a downside when keeping a bonsai tree. It is important to maintain a good environment and consistently check for signs of insects so that you can be sure an infestation does not occur. Typical insects on a Bonsai tree may include:

  • Spider mites
  • Whiteflies
  • Aphids 
  • Mealybugs

It is important to take the necessary actions required to rid your Bonsai of these insects. Depending on the tree and insect, the care that is needed will be different.

Microscopic Toxic Spores on Bonsai Trees Are a Threat to Humans

Bonsai trees can contain toxic spores like black mold. This could cause many health issues such as: 

  • Congestion
  • Memory body fatigue 
  • Memory impairment 

Black mold is mainly found in the soil is kept too moist. If you find black mold on your Bonsai tree, make sure to take all the steps needed to restore health to your tree. 

The Positive Effect Bonsai Trees Have on Human Health

50-year-old Bonsai

Bonsai trees may impact your health negatively, but there are also positive benefits to owning them as well. Many indoor plants have proven to improve human health both physically and mentally. 

Positive Health Benefits for Those Owning a Bonsai Tree

Keeping plants, such as bonsai trees, indoors can decrease chances of developing: 

  • Sore throats 
  • Dry coughs 
  • Colds
  • Dry skin

This is because indoor plants such as bonsai trees help to keep the humidity levels balanced. Plants increase the humidity through evapotranspiration

Water from the soil goes through the plants, where it is evaporated into the air. There are certain types of bonsai trees that work better than others in increasing humidity levels. Jade plants, Spider plants, and Areca palm are just a few that help with the humidity levels. 

Bonsai Trees Can Improve Mental Health Significantly  

Just receiving visual exposure from plants can drastically change a person’s mental health. The art of Bonsai has been considered a hobby that can: 

  • Decrease stress 
  • Reduce blood pressure 
  • Increase productivity
  • Help to alleviate depression and anxiety

When you want to change your mood and improve your mental health, a plant such as a Bonsai tree may be just what you need. Since there are a variety of different species, you can be sure to find one that works best for you. 

Bonsai Trees Provide a Good Environment for Humans 

Keeping plants in an indoor setting can reduce the volatile organic compounds in the air. These include substances such as:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Benzene
  • Trichloroethylene. 

Bonsai trees pull these compounds into the soil and convert them into plant food. Some species of Bonsai trees have proven to work better in trapping these pollutants. Areca palm, Ficus, and the Boston Fern are among the best plants to provide clean air. 


Bonsai trees have the potential to be poisonous to humans depending on the species. Since there are many species that can be used for Bonsai trees, you can be sure to pick one that is not poisonous to humans.

If you decide to own one that is poisonous, make sure to do proper research on the care that is needed for that tree. In some cases, the species of tree will only be poisonous if ingested, while others can cause skin problems on contact. Stay tuned to our blog!

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