Sunday, April 26, 2009

Houseplant Toxicity Week Appendix 2: Index

If you have landed on this page because you are concerned about a child or pet who has eaten a plant, seek emergency medical help.
In the U.S., you can call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 (for children), the ASPCA at 1-888-426-4435 (for pets; $60 consultation fee applies), or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 (pets; $35 fee applies)
Second appendix to the seven-part-and-two-appendix houseplant toxicity series. (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6) (Part 7) (Appendix 1)
This is the index for the Houseplant Toxicity Series of posts. If you have reached this page first in a Google search or whatever, I recommend that you find the plant on this list and then follow the link to get more specific information about that plant. If the plant's botanical name is highlighted, that means that it was the subject of a plant profile here at PATSP, in which case you can also click the plant's name and find out care information, trivia, and so forth.
Toxicity ratings are more or less decided as follows:
Crazy super dangerous: is highly toxic, and has either resulted in repeated human or pet fatalities, or is for whatever reason thought to be very likely to do so.
Dangerous : Fatalities are rare or nonexistent, but the plant is still capable of causing serious and possibly permanent injury requiring hospitalization, extreme pain, temporary disability, or something along those lines. Dangerous plants may make you want to die, but you probably won't actually die. Though the possibility is theoretically there.
Potentially dangerous: This designation is for plants which are probably capable of causing harm and maybe even death, but you'd have to eat your body weight in the plant for that to happen, or it's impossible to find any actual case reports, or etc. Potentially dangerous plants will probably be more risky for pets than people.
Unpleasant : The plant is not likely to kill you, or even to result in serious injury, but it may be capable of causing vomiting, bad skin or eye irritation, diarrhea, burning, itching, or other bad things, and you don't want to eat it on purpose. This is also the designation for plants which are otherwise safe but bear thorns or spines that could puncture the mouth or digestive tract.
Safe : Should be safe in most quantities and for most people/animals, though exceptions may exist.
Unknown : I couldn't find enough good information to decide one way or the other, or I found the information but it conflicted with other information. I did make a guess as to the level of risk on the page for unknown-toxicity plants, but this is only a (semi-educated) guess and I am almost certainly really wrong on one or more of the plants therein.
I know the formatting on this page needs some work (EDIT: Some of the problem is that Google changed how Blogger pages are formatted in the spring of 2012.), and that it's hard to read as it stands. I did the best I could. Putting together a draft of this index took me a good three hours to begin with; I didn't really have the patience to spend time fiddling with the formatting too.
Abutilon hybridum (flowering maple) [Unpleasant link]
Acalypha hispida (chenille plant) [Unpleasant link]
Acalypha reptans (dwarf chenille plant) [Unpleasant link]
Adenium obesum (desert rose, mock azalea) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Adiantum spp. (maidenhair fern) [Unknown link]
Adromischus spp. [Potentially dangerouslink]
Aechmea fasciata (silver vase plant) [Safe link]
Aeschynanthus lobbianus (lipstick plant) [Safe link]
Aeschynanthus speciosus (goldfish plant) [Safe link]
Agapanthus orientalis (blue African lily) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Agave spp. (century plant) (A. victoriae-reginae) [Dangerous link]
Aglaonema spp. (Chinese evergreen) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Albuca bracteata (pregnant onion) [Dangerous link]
Allamanda cathartica [Potentially dangerouslink]
Aloe spp. including A. vera (medicinal aloe) Alworthia 'Black Gem' [Potentially dangerouslink]
Alpinia zerumbet (shell ginger, variegated ginger) [Unpleasant link]
Alternanthera spp. (A. dentata 'Purple Knight') [Safe link]
Amaryllis spp. (amaryllis) [Dangerous link]
Ananas comosus (pineapple) [Unpleasant link]
Anthurium spp. including A. andraeanum (flamingo flower, oilcloth flower, tailflower) and the various hybrids (bird's-nest anthurium, e.g.) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Aphelandra squarrosa (zebra plant, saffron spike) [Safe link]
Araucaria bidwillii (bunya-bunya) [Unpleasant link]
Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island pine) [Unpleasant link]
Ardisia crenata (coral berry) [Unknown link]
Ardisia elliptica (shoebutton tree) [Unknown link]
Asparagus spp. (asparagus ferns) [Potentially dangerous link]
Aspidistra lurida, A. elatior (cast-iron plant) [Unknown link]
Asplenium nidus, A. antiquum (birdsnest fern, Japanese birdsnest fern) [Unknown link]
Asplundia 'Jungle Drum' [Unknown link]
Aucuba japonica (Japanese laurel, spotted laurel) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail palm) [Safe link]
Begonia spp. (wax begonia, tuberous begonia, rex begonia) [Safe link]
Bougainvillea spp. (bougainvillea) [Unpleasant link]
Bowiea volubilis (climbing onion) [Dangerous link]
Brassolaeliocattleya cvv. [Safe link]
Brugmansia spp. (angel's trumpets, tree datura) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Caladium cvv. (angel wings, heart of Jesus, elephant's ear) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Calathea spp. including Calathea ornata [Safe link]
Capsicum annuum (chili pepper, bell pepper, etc.) [Unpleasant link]
Caryota mitis and other Caryota spp. (fishtail palm) [Potentially dangerous link]
Cattleya spp. [Safe link]
Cereus peruvianus [Unknown link]
Ceropegia woodii (rosary vine, string of hearts) [Unknown link]
Cestrum diurnum (day-blooming jessamine, day-blooming cestrum) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Cestrum nocturnum (night-blooming jasmine, night-blooming jessamine) [Dangerous link]
Chamaedorea elegans (parlor palm) [Safe link]
Chamaedorea metallica (metallica palm, miniature fishtail palm) [Safe link]
Chamedorea seifrizii (bamboo palm) [Safe link]
Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant, airplane plant, mala madre) [Unknown link]
Chlorophytum x 'Fire Flash' (Fire Flash, mandarin plant, green orange) [Unknown link]
Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (areca palm) [Safe link]
Chrysanthemum spp. (mum) [Unpleasant link]
Cissus quadrangularis [Unpleasant link]
Cissus rhombifolia (grape ivy, oakleaf ivy) [Safe link]
Citrus spp. (lemon, lime, orange) [Safe link]
Clivia miniata (kaffir lily) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Codiaeum variegatum (croton) [Unpleasant link]
Coffea arabica (coffee tree) [Safe link]
Colocasia spp. (elephant ear, taro) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Columnea spp. [Safe link]
Cordyline fruticosa (ti plant) [Safe link]
Cotelydon spp. [Potentially dangerouslink]
Crassula ovata (jade plant) [Safe link]
Cryptanthus spp. (earth star) [Unpleasant link]
Cryptostegia madagascariensis (Madagascar rubber vine) [Dangerous link]
Ctenanthe spp. (never-never plant) [Safe link]
Cuphea ignea (cigar flower) [Unpleasant link]
Cycas revoluta and other Cycas spp. (sago palm) [Dangerous link]
Cyclamen persicum (cyclamen) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Cyrtomium falcatum (holly fern) [Unknown link]
Dahlia spp. [Unpleasant link]
Datura spp. (devil's trumpet, jimson weed, sacred thorn apple) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Davallia spp. (rabbit's-foot fern) [Unknown link]
Dendrobium spp. [Safe link]
Dieffenbachia spp. (dumb cane) [Dangerous link]
Dionaea muscipula (venus flytrap) [Unknown link]
Dizygotheca elegantissima (false aralia) [Unpleasant link]
Dracaena deremensis cvv. ('Janet Craig') ('Warneckei') [Potentially dangerouslink]
Dracaena fragrans ('Massangeana') (corn plant) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Dracaena surculosa (sometimes D. godseffiana; gold-dust dracaena) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Dracaena marginata (Madagascar dragon tree) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Dracaena sanderiana (ribbon plant, lucky bamboo) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Echeveria spp. [Unknown link]
Ensete spp. (ornamental? banana) [Safe link]
Epipremnum aureum (pothos, devil's ivy) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Episcia spp. (flame violet) [Safe link]
Eucharis grandiflora (amazon lily) [Unknown link]
Euphorbia bougheyi variegata [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia cooperi [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia drupifera (giraffe tree) [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia grandicornis (cow horns) [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia lactea (candelabra cactus, dragon bones, hat-rack cactus) [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia milii (crown of thorns) [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia pseudocactus [Dangerous link]
Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia) [Unpleasant – details in appendix 1]
Euphorbia tirucalli (pencil cactus) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Euphorbia trigona (African milk bush, African milk tree) [Dangerous link]
Exacum affine (persian violet) [Unknown link]
Fatshedera lizei (tree ivy) [Unknown link]
Fatsia japonica [Unknown link]
Fenestraria rhopalophylla [Unknown link]
Ficus benjamina (weeping fig, "ficus tree") [Unpleasant link]
Ficus elastica (rubber plant) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig) [Unpleasant link]
Ficus maclellandii (long-leaf fig, alii fig, 'Alii,' 'Alli,' 'Amstel King') [Unpleasant link]
Ficus microcarpa / nitida / retusa (Indian laurel) [Unpleasant link]
Ficus pumila (creeping fig) [Unpleasant link]
Fittonia albivenis (nerve plant, mosaic plant) [Safe link]
Fuchsia spp. [Safe link]
Gardenia jasminoides (gardenia, cape jasmine) [Safe link]
Gasteria spp. [Unknown link]
Gibasis geniculata (Tahitian bridal veil) [Safe link]
Gloriosa superba (glory lily, climbing lily, gloriosa lily) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Grevillea robusta (silk oak) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Guzmania lingulata (scarlet star bromeliad) [Safe link]
Gynura aurantiaca (purple passion vine, purple velvet plant) [Safe link]
Ludisia discolor (jewel orchid) [Safe link]
Hatiora salicornioides (drunkard's dream) [Unknown link]
Haworthia spp. [Safe link]
Hedera canariensis (Algerian ivy) [Dangerous link]
Hedera helix (English ivy) [Dangerous link]
Hemigraphis exotica (waffle plant) [Unknown link]
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (tropical hibiscus) [Safe link]
Hippeastrum spp. (amaryllis) [Dangerous link]
Homalomena cvv. ('Emerald Gem') [Potentially dangerouslink]
Hoya spp. (H. carnosa) (wax flower) [Safe link]
Hyacinthus orientalis (hyacinth) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Hydrangea macrophylla (hydrangea) [Dangerous link]
Hylocereus undatus (dragon fruit cactus) [Unknown link]
Hypoestes phyllostachya (pink polka-dot plant) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Jatropha spp. (jicamilla, physic nut, bellyache bush, coral plant, etc.) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Kalanchoe spp. (including K. beharensis, K. luciae, K. tomentosa, K. blossfeldiana, etc., as well as the former Kalanchoe now called Bryophyllum daigremontianum) [Unpleasant link]
Lantana camara (lantana) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Laurus nobilis (bay leaf, laurel) [Safe link]
Ledebouria socialis (silver squill) [Dangerous link]
Lilium longiflorum (Easter lily) [Dangerous link]
Lithops spp. (living stones) [Safe link]
Mandevilla spp. (Dipladenia) [Dangerous link]
Maranta leuconeura erythroneura (prayer plant) [Safe link]
Maranta leuconeura kerchoviana (prayer plant, rabbit tracks, ten commandments plant) [Safe link]
Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Monadenium ellenbeckii (and probably other Monadenium spp.) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Monstera deliciosa (split-leaf philodendron, swiss cheese plant) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Murraya paniculata (mock orange, orange jasmine) [Unknown link]
Musa spp. (banana) [Safe link]
Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo) [Dangerous link]
Narcissus spp. (daffodil, narcissus, paper-white) [Dangerous link]
Nematanthus spp. (guppy plant) [Safe link]
Neoregelia cvv. in general (by association) [Unpleasant link]
Neoregelia 'Fireball' specifically (by association) [Safe link]
Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston fern) [Safe link]
Nerium oleander (oleander) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Oncidium cvv. (by association) [Safe link]
Ophiopogon spp. (lilyturf, Liriope) [Unknown link]
Opuntia spp. (bunny ears cactus, prickly pear) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Ornithogalum spp. (pregnant onion, star of Bethlehem) [Dangerous link]
Oxalis spp. (shamrock) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Pachypodium geayi / lamerei (Madagascar palm) [Dangerous link]
Pandanus spp. (screw pine) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Paphiopedilum spp. (lady-slipper orchid) [Safe link]
Pedilanthus tithymaloides (redbird cactus, devil's backbone) [Dangerous link]
Pelargonium x hortorum (geranium) [Unpleasant link]
Pellionia spp. including Pellionia pulchra [Safe link]
Peperomia argyreia (watermelon plant) [Safe link]
Peperomia caperata / P. griseoargentea (Emerald Ripple) [Safe link]
Peperomia obtusifolia (baby rubber plant) [Safe link]
Persea americana (avocado) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Phalaenopsis spp. (moth orchid) [Safe link]
Philodendron 'Autumn' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron bipennifolium (also P. panduraeforme; (fiddle-leaf philodendron, horse head philodendron) [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Imperial Red' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Congo Green' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Congo Red' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron gloriosum [Dangerous link]
Philodendron hastatum [Dangerous link]
Philodendron hederaceum (also P. oxycardium, P. cordatum, P. scandens, P. micans; velvet philodendron, heart-leaf philodendron, 'Brasil') [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Moonlight' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Pink Princess' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Prince of Orange' [Dangerous link]
Philodendron selloum (P. bipinnatifidum; tree philodendron) [Dangerous link]
Philodendron 'Xanadu' [Dangerous link]
Pilea cadierei (aluminum plant) [Safe link]
Pilea depressa (baby toes) [Safe link]
Pilea nummulariifolia (creeping Charlie) [Safe link]
Platycerium bifurcatum and other Platycerium spp. (staghorn fern) [Unknown link]
Plectranthus verticillatus (Swedish ivy) [Safe link]
Plumeria spp. (frangipani) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Podocarpus macrophyllus (buddhist pine) [Unknown link]
Polyscias balfouriana (balfour aralia), P. crispata, P. fruticosa (ming aralia) [Potentially dangerous link]
Primula spp. (primrose, oxlip) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Radermachera sinica (China doll) [Unknown link]
Rhapis excelsa (lady palm) (by association) [Safe link]
Rhododendron spp. (azalea) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Ricinus communis (castor bean) [Crazy super dangerouslink]
Saintpaulia ionantha cvv. (African violet) [Safe link]
Sansevieria cylindrica, other Sansevieria spp. [Potentially dangerouslink]
Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Saxifraga stolonifera (strawberry begonia) [Safe link]
Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree, octopus tree) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Schefflera arboricola (umbrella tree, octopus tree, arboricola) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Schlumbergera truncata cvv. (Christmas / Easter / Thanksgiving / holiday cactus) [Safe link]
Scilla spp. (squill, star hyacinth) [Dangerous link]
Scindapsus pictus (satin pothos) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Sedum morganianum (burro's tail) [Unpleasant link]
Sedum rubrotinctum (jellybean plant) [Unpleasant link]
Other Sedum spp. (stonecrop) [Unpleasant link]
Selaginella spp. (spikemoss, resurrection plant, rainbow fern) [Unknown link]
Sempervivum spp. (hen and chicks, houseleek, stonecrop) [Unpleasant link]
Senecio cineraria (dusty miller) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Senecio macroglossus (cape ivy) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Senecio mikanioides (German ivy) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Senecio radicans (string of bananas) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Senecio rowleyanus (string of beads) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Senecio x hybridus (cineraria) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Sinningia speciosa (gloxinia) [Safe link]
Solanum pseudocapsicum (Jerusalem cherry) [Dangerous link]
Soleirolia soleirolii (baby tears) [Safe link]
Solenostemon scutellarioides (coleus, flame nettle) [Unpleasant link]
Spathiphyllum spp. (peace lily) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Strelitzia reginae / nicolai (bird of paradise) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Streptocarpus spp. (cape primrose) [Safe link]
Stromanthe spp. (by association) [Safe link]
Synadenium grantii (African milk bush, African milk tree) [Dangerous link]
Syngonium podophyllum [Potentially dangerouslink]
Tagetes spp. (French marigold, African marigold) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Tillandsia cyanea (pink quill) [Safe link]
Tillandsia spp. (air plants) [Safe link]
Tolmiea menziesii (piggyback plant) [Safe link]
Tradescantia pallida (Setcreasea purpurea; purple heart, purple queen) [Unpleasant link]
Tradescantia spathacea (Moses in the cradle, oyster plant) [Unpleasant link]
Tradescantia zebrina (Zebrina pendula; wandering Jew) [Unpleasant link]
Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium) [Safe link]
Tulipa spp. (tulip) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Tylecodon spp. [Potentially dangerouslink]
Vriesea spp. including Vriesea splendens (flaming sword bromeliad) [Safe link]
Yucca guatemalensis (spineless yucca) [Unpleasant link]
Zamia spp. including Z. furfuracea, Z. integrifolia, Z. pumila (coontie palm, cardboard palm) [Dangerous – link]
Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant, fat boy, eternity plant) [Potentially dangerouslink]
Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lily) [Dangerous link]
Zygocactus spp. (Christmas / Easter / Thanksgiving / holiday cactus) [Safe link]

(Partial) Bibliography (for the whole series of posts):
Nelson, Lewis S., Richard D. Shih, and Michael J. Balick. Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, 2nd ed., Springer Science + Business Media, New York, NY, 2007.
Spoerke, David G., Jr., and Susan Smolinske. Toxicity of Houseplants, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL, 1990.


Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

This is great information. May I send my master gardener newletter staff a link to this as a reference?

mr_subjunctive said...

Well sure.

Anonymous said...

A commendable amount of work and information. Great job!

Anonymous said...

Today my Dad sent me an email, asking me to identify a cactus they have in their house in Fla. because my Mom had been messing with a cactus with no needles, touched her eye, and it got red and irritated. I found a pic and the name of the plant, went to your list, and there it was, Euphorbia Trigona, known irritant. I was able to provide them with useful info because of your hard work. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dangerous plant alert - Monadenium ellenbeckii. Just had cause to call the ASPCA poison control number after my typically non-plant eating Corgi gobbled down some of this plant. She threw it up everywhere and there were no lasting effects. But it did cause irritation to the mucous membranes and GI tract.

EricaW said...

Thanks for a comprehensive list!
It seems odd to me that we don't have enough houseplants that are entirely edible for there to be an 'edible' section of the listing. (Presumably, 'safe' is the closest; and of course many food plants may also have inedible, toxic, irritating, or allergenic parts.)
It just seems odd that we put all the love and effort into keeping plants that are dangerous to mildly unpleasant and unpalatable. I have yet to see anyone 'short list' the top ten tastiest houseplants of all time, say.
Liability issues? Or is edibility actually detrimental, since we don't want pets or kids to get in the habit of snacking on the scenery?

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, we don't want kids to get into the habit, sure. But also, even "edible" plants can be dangerous if they've been treated by pesticides (usually not lethal, but you still wouldn't want to eat one), and there's no way to tell just by looking. So there's a liability issue in encouraging anybody to eat any plant. Which is why food-producers have fairly strict regulations in place for how long they have to wait before selling pesticide-treated produce, and stuff like that.

There's also the fact that plants don't have much incentive to be edible to humans in the first place, so it's not that surprising that most plants wouldn't be. And then trying to focus on houseplants restricts the possible species even more.

I did make a list of plants that can produce something that's actually good to eat, but most of those aren't plants where all parts of the plant will be delicious all the time.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you for posting this. it's very helpful. i found this plant last week (Scindapsus pictus), did some searching about it in the internet, and found out that it is poisonous (according to some websites). the thing is, someone told me that this plant is useful. i didn't get the chance to ask why. is it true that it is beneficial for us?

mr_subjunctive said...


is it true that it is beneficial for us?

I have not read anything to suggest that Scindapsus pictus is useful for food or medicine, no. As far as I know, it is only commercially useful in horticulture.

Whether it's poisonous depends on what you mean by "poisonous." As far as I'm aware, it doesn't contain a specific molecule that disrupts normal metabolism, like Datura spp. (atropine) or poison hemlock (coniine), which is what people usually mean by "toxic" or "poisonous."

S. pictus does, on the other hand, have the potential to cause harm if ingested, due to microscopic needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate in its tissues, which are physically irritating and cause swelling and pain. (Some plants that contain calcium oxalate crystals can actually be fatal if consumed, though I'm not aware of this ever happening with S. pictus; usually those plants contain other things that make them more dangerous.) It's sort of like the damage from being poked by a cactus spine, except that the cactus spine is much smaller, and poking into your tongue / cheek / gums / esophagus / etc.

Most plants in the same family as S. pictus, the Araceae, also contain calcium oxalate crystals throughout their tissues. A few are also edible to some degree -- Monstera deliciosa fruit is edible when ripe, but (if I remember correctly) contains the crystals until it ripens. Colocasia esculenta's corms can be eaten if the calcium oxalate is broken down first by cooking, or washed away by long soaking in cold water.

So I suppose it's theoretically possible that there might exist a method of processing S. pictus that would make it safe, but there's no reason to try. Even if it wasn't going to hurt you to eat it, it doesn't have anything to offer that a leaf of cabbage or spinach or whatever couldn't give you much more easily.