Can We Burn Hydrangea Wood?

Q: We just bought a home, The PG hydrangeas were allowed to reach tree height while the property was not occupied. We have cut them back to a reasonable size. The branches we removed are 1″ – 2″ in diameter. We would like to burn the branches in our firepit. We know that hydrangea leaves contain poison if ingested. Will the smoke from the wood be poison in the air? 

A: Hydrangea buds, flowers, and leaves all contain a chemical called amygdalin. It is broken down in several ways to produce a small amount of cyanide,. If you’ve heard that raw almonds, apple seeds and peach pits are poisonous, it’s because they contain amygdalin. It is broken down in one’s stomach to make tiny amounts of poison. In theory the heat from your firepit should destroy the amygdalin in the hydrangea wood. However, I make a practice of never describing something as ‘safe’ or that the smoke is not harmful. I recommend that you discard the wood.

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