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Poisonous Indoor Plants

Poisonous Indoor Plants – Beautiful, But Don’t Eat Them

Indoor plants add a lot of value to any space, whether they’re in a reception lobby, a bland corner of the office or a home’s atrium.  They bring splashes of color and enhance your decor, improve air quality and are proven to boost productivity. Some plants even have medicinal qualities or can be used for cooking.

However, there are plants that are beneficial and yes, beautiful, but may also be dangerous.  Some of these plants may just cause skin irritation, but some can cause illness when ingested.

These poisonous plants can be especially hazardous to children and pets, or those with compromised immune systems.

Here’s how poisoning can occur:

  • Skin contact with the sap or juices
  • Ingestion of any part of the plant including roots, stems, blossoms or berries
  • Eating and even just touching leaves
  • Eating the soil where they are planted
  • Drinking water from the plant tray

Children and pets are naturally curious. They can be attracted to colorful berries or flowers and may attempt to touch or crush them, or even find out how they taste.  To avoid accidents, it’s best to keep these poisonous plants out of reach. Or you may want to want to leave them completely out of your home or office to be totally safe.

10 Poisonous Plants

Here are common toxic indoor plants that you should keep away from both children and pets:

Peace Lily

poisonous indoor plants peace lily

The Peace Lily is an evergreen perennial originating from South America.  It’s a popular indoor plant because they are low maintenance and can survive even with little sunlight.  It has dark, glossy leaves with white flowers and is an excellent air purifier.

The Peace Lily is dangerous only if ingested. The sap causes severe burning and swelling in the mouth and tongue.  People who eat this experience difficulty in speaking or swallowing. Other symptoms are vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Contact with the sap likewise causes skin irritation.

Pets essentially exhibit the same symptoms and also have excessive salivation. They lose appetite and vomit.

Dieffenbachia or the Dumb Cane

poisonous indoor plants dumb cane

The Dieffenbachia is a large plant that has thick stems and fleshy leaves that are usually solid green, with the occasional yellow or green markings.  Because it is a big plant that’s mostly kept in pots on the floor or on low pedestals, curious children or pets can easily get to them.

This indoor plant has gotten a bad rep – it can kill!  This may be stretching the truth a bit because ingesting any part of this plant does not usually cause fatal results.  However, it is poisonous.

All parts of the plant are covered with microscopic needle shaped calcium oxalate crystals that when ingested can cause painful swelling of the mouth.  In some cases, the swelling becomes so bad that it can cause victims to lose their ability to talk. Hence the name – Dumb Cane.


poisonous indoor plants philodendron

This is another popular plant because it can easily adapt to the indoors.  It is a relative of the Dieffenbachia and also contains toxic calcium oxalate crystals.

In humans, ingestion of any part of the plant can cause skin irritations and swelling of the mouth and the digestive tract.  There have been reported fatalities in children when large amounts were ingested.

Poisoning in pets have more severe effects including spasms, seizures and swelling.

There are 2 kinds of Philodendron – vining and the non-vining kind.  For safety, it is important to keep vining plants hung out of reach of children (and pets).  Non-vining plants should also be kept out of reach by positioning them on shelves or high window sills.


poisonous indoor plants pothos

The Pothos Ivy, also called Devil’s Ivy,  is a beautiful plant with variegated leaves.  Easy to propagate and maintain, it is also known for its ability to remove impurities from the air.

This plant is only mildly harmful, if ingested in small quantities.  In humans, side effects include a burning sensation in the mouth and/or swelling of lips, tongue and throat.  It can also induce vomiting and cause diarrhea.

In animals, it can cause drooling and stomach upset.  More serious symptoms include swelling of the mouth and tongue and difficulty in breathing.

Arrowhead Plant

poisonous indoorplants arrowhead plant

The Arrowhead plant is a relative of the philodendron.  Arrowhead plants have either heart-shaped leaves and later develop arrowhead-shaped leaves on climbing stems.  They are easy to maintain, making them popular indoor plants.

This plant constantly sheds leaves so it’s important to regularly check for fallen leaves if you have kids or pets on the premises.

What are the side effects of poisoning?  For both humans and animals, this plant causes skin irritation, stomach upset and vomiting.

Sago Palm

poisonous indoor plants sago palm

Sago Palms are perfect if you want to add a tropical flair to your interiors.  And like all plants already mentioned in this article, they are great at improving indoor air quality.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia – sago palms are ancient plants that has been around since prehistoric times.  And they have developed a deadly defense mechanism. They are highly toxic and may cause vomiting and diarrhea when any part of the plant is ingested.  In severe cases, they can cause liver failure.

Because of their highly toxic nature, it is best to just avoid this plant altogether when there are children or pets in the house.


poisonous indoor plants caladium

Also known as Elephant Ears or Angels Wings because of the shape of their leaves, Caladiums are popular as indoor plants. They come in a large variety of colors, including red, pink and white that provide plenty of interest to any indoor space.

Be aware though that all parts of this plant are considered toxic to both humans and animals.

In humans, ingestion can cause painful burning of the mouth, as well as swelling of the tongue, lips and throat. This leads to difficulty in breathing, speaking and swallowing. If left unattended, this can lead to death because of blocked airways.

Similarly, pets can suffer vomiting and may exhibit these behaviors – head shaking, staggering, and drooling. They may also experience shortness of breath.

Snake Plant

poisonous indoor plants snake plant

We’ve already talked about this interesting plant in many of our previous articles. Also known as the Sansevieria, these plants are great for indoors because they require little watering, can survive under low light conditions and are great in improving air quality.

Though not as toxic as the other plants already mentioned in this article, the Snake Plant can still cause symptoms like mouth pain, salivation and nausea. It is mainly toxic when eaten but can also cause irritation when sap touches the skin.

In animals, the Snake Plant can cause excessive salivation, pain, nausea, as well as vomiting and diarrhea.

English Ivy

poisonous indoor plants englissh ivy

Not to be confused with Poison Ivy, this plant is often used in wreaths and centerpieces during the holidays.  However, aside from being decorative, the English Ivy is also valued for its air cleaning qualities. They are effective in removing fecal-matter particles (Yikes!) from the air.

While symptoms are only severe if ingested in large quantities, English Ivy can nevertheless still cause these symptoms – rashes and when ingested, a burning sensation in the mouth and throat. They can also cause convulsions, fever and stupor.

In pets, watch out for these manifestations – hyperactivity, shortness of breath, weakness and staggering, and  tremors. Vomiting and diarrhea may also ensue after ingestion.


poisonous indoor plants poinsettia

And yes, finally we come to the one plant that most people think of first when you say “poisonous plant”.  In fact, the poinsettia plant is often considered deadly, but that’s wrong.  If you have an allergy to latex, stay away from this plant.

The poinsettia is well known for its bright red and green colors, and now with new varieties, it comes in shades of pink, plum, and white too.  It is a very common household plant, especially around the winter holidays.

Poinsettia can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten. If you have an allergy to latex, stay away from this plant.  If children and pets eat it, they can develop a mouth rash and stomach upset.  The sap can cause a skin rash, too.

Plant Safety Tips

While some of the plants on this list are highly toxic and we would highly advise to just keep them out of your home or office if you have children or pets, some can still provide beauty to your space – with certain precautions.

Here are just some tips so you can enjoy them safely:

  • Keep them out of reach or put them in areas where children or pets are not allowed
  • Train your kids not to touch plants.
  • Ensure that plants are regularly maintained and any debris and cuttings are kept out of reach
  • While this may be a no brainer, always wear protective gloves and clothing, and wash immediately after handling plants to remove any substances that can cause skin or eye irritation
  • Trim plants so pets and children cannot reach the vines.

Still Have Questions? INSIDE PLANTS Can Help

If you desire to make your space beautiful and lush with plants but are unsure of what are safe to use for your space, our plant experts at INSIDE PLANTS can help.

We are a top-rated indoor plant design and care service company.  Whether you have an office space needing some greening and better air quality, or a home in need of a plant makeover, we have the perfect solution for you.

We have everything you need to make your plant design vision into a reality – beautiful and lush plants, unique planters plus unparalleled plant care service.

Call us today for a FREE consultation at these numbers:

Corona  (951) 371-4637

Palm Springs  (760) 322-9909

Toll-free  (800) 376-4637

Tags: Poisonous Indoor Plants, poisonous plants, toxic plants, plants that will make you sick

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Poisonous Indoor Plants