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Know the toxic plant inside your house- Dumb Cane

Written by on June 20th, 2010 No Comment

This plant is among the most popular houseplants for its beautiful variegation, full foliage and thick stems. A popular houseplant for over 150 years, the Dumb cane is native to South America where it is commonly found growing in tropical jungles, especially in Brazil. With common names like Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Dumb cane, you can be sure that this plant has an interesting story associated with it.

Undoubtedly the most intriguing characteristic of the Dumb cane relates to its common names.  It has been known for over a century that the plant contains crystals of calcium oxalate, and if any part of it is eaten a sudden burning irritation and paralysis of the mouth, tongue, and lips will result.  This usually prevents a person from talking for a while, which has led to the amusing common names.

This plant contains toxic sap which may cause irritation, tongue numbness and swelling if chewed by children. Further, it can kill a kid in minutes and an adult in 15 minutes depending on the poison content in its leaves. If touched, one should never touch his/her eyes as it can cause partial or permanent blindness.

The ingestion of this plant, however, can have some serious consequences such as vomiting, diarrhea, and intense salivation.  Death has been reported to occur when tissues at the back of the tongue and throat swell and block air passage.

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