Dieffenbachia is a type of house plant with large, colorful leaves. Poisoning can occur if you eat the leaves, stalk, or root of this plant.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Burning in mouth or throat
- Damage to cornea of the eye
- Eye pain
- Hoarse voice
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling and blistering in the mouth or tongue
Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.
Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth. Rinse the person's eyes and skin well if they touched the plant. Give milk to drink. Call Poison Control for more guidance.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- The patient's age, weight, and condition
- The parts of the plant that were eaten
- The time swallowed
- The amount swallowed
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the plant with you to the hospital, if possible.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive breathing support and fluids through a vein (IV).
If contact with the patient's mouth is not severe, symptoms usually resolve within a few days. For patients who do have severe contact with the plant, a longer recovery time may be necessary.
Do not touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.
Dumbcane poisoning; Leopard lily poisoning; Tuft root poisoning
Hostetler MA, Schneider SM. Poisonous plants. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 205.
Shofner JD, Kimball AB. Plant-induced dermatitis. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 63.
Graeme, KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 64.
Update Date 10/21/2013
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.