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How dangerous Is this indoor plant?

A photo of a common indoor plant called Dieffenbachia, commonly known as dumb cane, has been making rounds on social media, warning the public that it is potentially dangerous. But is it really a dangerous plant?

Photo Screen grabbed from Chef at Large Facebook Page
Photo Screen grabbed from Chef at Large Facebook Page

According to Nidhi Goyal Chaudhary in her post, aside from making your skin itch, the dumb cane is even more dangerous. She said a friend’s daughter ingested the leaf of the indoor plant which made her tongue swell “to the point of suffocation.” She also mentioned that the plant “can kill a kid in less than a minute, and an adult in 15 minutes.”


Since this plant is common in Philippine households, offices and even in schools, The Dailypedia did some research on how really dangerous the dumb cane is.

Is dumb cane really poisonous?

dumb cane

According to Medline Plus of the US National Library of Medicine, dumb canes contain oxalic acid and aspargine which are poisonous when ingested. Symptoms of this indoor plant’s poisoning include: burning in the mouth or throat, damage to the cornea of the eye, diarrhea, eye pain, a hoarse voice, nausea and vomiting, and swelling and blistering of the mouth or tongue. When blistering and swelling is severe, it may prevent one from normal speaking, hence, the name dumb cane.

So is this indoor house plant really fatal?

Yes, when ingested it can be fatal, specially for children. It can also kill house pets if they accidentally ingest the plant.

In the past, it has been used to torture slaves and was used to make war prisoners infertile/impotent in 1941.

Although, this is one of the most popular indoor plants because it does not need much exposure to sunlight, precautionary measures should always be taken, especially if there are children. However, this does not mean we should get rid of this plant in our homes. Unless we eat it or touch its sap, the dumb cane is essentially harmless.

Written by G.A. Viray

G.A. had a lot of professional working experiences in different fields and industries before finally deciding to write articles in 2014. She is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian who also has a passion for teaching, training and facilitating. More than all her skills and passions, she is very much grateful that she is blessed with an adorable daughter and a loving husband.

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