Indoor plants can add beauty, peace and serenity to your home. However not all plants are as harmless as they seem. While most species of the plant kingdom are safe, some of them are poisonous and can cause severe reactions in both humans and animals. Keeping poisonous plants indoors is even more dangerous if you have young children and dogs as they could eat them without realizing. These ten plants are best kept outside your home if you want to keep your home toxin-free.
1. Dieffenbachia Or Dumb Cane
Dieffenbachia is a tropical flowering plant which belongs to the family of Araceae. There are 56 species of Dieffenbachia which are found all over the world. The cells of this plant contain raphide which, if chewed, causes a burning sensation and sometimes, temporary dumbness (giving rise to its other name, ‘Dumb Cane’). If a child chews a leaf of Dumb Cane, it can cause temporary numbness, irritation in the throat, excessive dribble and swelling in some parts of the neck. However, these effects are seldom life-threatening. If a person has accidentally chewed a leaf of it, wash their mouth out with cold water. Drinking milk also reduces the poisonous effects as it acts as antidote to raphide.
2. Caladium Or Heart Of Jesus
Caladium is a flowering plant from the family Araceae. It is also known by other names such as Elephant’s ear, Heart of Jesus and Angel Wings. It is noxious due to the presence of high levels of calcium oxalate and asparagine. If the parts of the plants are consumed in large quantity or comes into direct contact with the eye, it results in a burning sensation in the throat, corneal damage, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Large blisters can also form in the mouth, affecting speech. Wash your mouth out with cold water and drink milk if you have accidentally swallowed a part of the plant.
It is the second largest member of the Araceae family. They are mainly found in America and West Indies. They are less poisonous compared to the other plants. They possess glands which secrete nectar in order to attract ants. They contain small amount of raphide in them, which if consumed in large quantities could cause swelling and irritation in the throat.
4. Pothos Or Devil’s Ivy
Pothos is yet another plant from Araceae which is found in temperate regions and can cause ecological damage in some cases. It has many common names but mostly it is known as Devil’s Ivy because it cannot be killed by anyone. While certain compounds in Pothos might have cancer-fighting properties, it can cause numbness and swelling in the throat if consumed raw.
5. Peace Lily Or Spathe
It is an evergreen perennial plant with large leaves. It is poisonous if the leaves are eaten raw as it contains many of the same compounds as Pothos does. Eating large amounts of it causes swelling and irritation in the throat. The plant also secretes poisonous liquids which can cause a rash if they come into contact with skin.
It is one of the most harmful shrubs and belongs to the dogbane family Apocynaceae. Like olive plants, the leaves of the Oleander plant grow in pairs and the flowers in clusters. It contains a poisonous compound named cardiac glycosides which affects the gastrointestinal tract, CNS and the heart. The symptoms are eye inflammation and dermatitis which can only be treated by a medical professional.
It is a spring perennial plant from the amaryllis family. It contains an alkaloid poison called lycorine which can have an adverse effect on the body. The symptoms are acute stomach pain followed by vomiting and sometimes, cardiac arrest. In very rare cases, if huge quantities of it are consumed, it could even be fatal. Florists stand the risk of developing dermatitis if they handle the bulbs without proper protection first.
8. English Ivy
It is a flowering plant from the family Araliaceae. Ivy’s are climbers which are widely used to cover walls which could help control the temperature fluctuations in the house. The liquid secreted from a damaged ivy contains falcarinol and polyacetylene which can cause blistered hands, a fever and in more serious cases, convulsions, hallucinations and respiratory problems. Visit a medical professional immediately to get it treated before it becomes more serious.
It is a bulbous plant from the Lily family. They are widely grown in gardens or in pots. Tuliposides and tulipalins are the two chemicals present which are responsible for allergic reactions in the body. If it comes into contact with bare skin it could result in dermatitis, which must be treated by a dermatologist. Consuming tulip bulbs may result in nausea and diarrhoea.
It is a sweet-scented flowering plant from the Asparagaceae family. The bulbs of hyacinth contains oxalic acid which is poisonous when it comes into contact with bare hands. Always use protective gloves when you’re handling them if you want to avoid a skin infection.