We've all seen beautiful cakes draped in fragrant, colorful fresh flowers. What you may not realize, is that many fresh flowers often seen adorning wedding cakes are actually poisonous and potentially deadly if ingested. Side effects can range from a mild skin rash, to cardiac arrest.
A few (toxic) fresh flowers I've recently seen on wedding cakes include:
lily of the valley
*Gerber daisies are listed as non-toxic, but they can have a blood thinning effect which can be potentially life threatening to someone with clotting disorders.
Whenever asked, I will always suggest sugar flowers or arranging the flowers around the cake base. Many bakers do not use flower picks and insert stems directly into the cake. Florists aren't always made aware that the flowers will be used on a cake, which increases the risk.
A few other factors to consider are:
~ fertilizer (do you really want THAT coming in contact with your cake?)
~ flowers that are handled by multiple people = dirty hands, contaminated water buckets, etc.
~ Toxicity (many gorgeous flowers are also deadly)
~ flower bucket "juice" (this is the water floral stems rest in once cut)
Wild flowers and even organic flowers can also contain fertilizer and some pesticides, so you need to use caution when using fresh flowers on cake. Ultimately, it comes down to your comfort level. If using flowers on a cake, try not to use flowers purchased from a florist. Instead, find an organic supplier that can guarantee the absence of pesticides and other toxins. If you MUST use fresh flowers on your cake, it is imperative to do your research to find out which flowers are poisonous, or even mildly toxic.
Here is a partial list of poisonous flowers.
Another great blog post to read on the subject was written by my friend Kara, of: A Cake to Remember in Richmond, VA.