This article describes poisoning caused by eating parts of the Caladium plant and other plants in the Araceae family.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
The poisonous ingredients are:
- Calcium oxalate crystals
- Asparagine, a protein found in the plant
Note: All parts of the plants are poisonous if large amounts are eaten.
Caladium and related plants are used as houseplants and in gardens.
Symptoms from eating parts of the plant or from the plant touching the eye include:
- Burning in the mouth or throat
- Damage to the outer clear layer (cornea) of the eye
- Eye pain
- Hoarse voice and difficulty speaking
- Increased salivation
- 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.
If the plant was eaten, wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth, and give the person milk to drink. Call poison control for more treatment information.
If the eyes or skin touched the plant, rinse them well with water.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- The person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the plant and parts eaten
- Amount swallowed
- The time it was swallowed
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the plant with you to the hospital, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated. The person may receive:
- Airway and breathing support for severe mouth and throat swelling
- Additional eye flushing or washing
- Intravenous fluids (IV, through a vein)
- Medicines to treat symptoms
People who do not have a lot of mouth contact with the plant are usually fine within a few days. People who have more mouth contact with the plant may take longer to recover. Serious burns to the cornea may require specialized eye care.
Alocasia plant poisoning; Angel wings plant poisoning; Colocasia plant poisoning; Heart of Jesus plant poisoning; Texas Wonder plant poisoning
Auerbach PS. Wild plant and mushroom poisoning, In: Auerbach PS, ed. Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:374-404.
Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 65.
Lim CS, Aks SE. Plants, mushrooms, and herbal medications. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 158.
Review Date 7/2/2019
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.