Alternative names 
Dieffenbachia; Leopard Lily; Tuft Root

Poisoning caused by consumption of plant material from the Dieffenbachia (mother-in-law plant) leaf.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • oxalic acid  
  • asparagine,  
  • a protein found in this plant

Where Found

  • Dieffenbachia (mother-in-law plant)

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • body as a whole       o burning in mouth       o swelling of tongue       o swelling of mouth  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o burning in throat       o hoarse voice       o eye pain       o corneal abrasion  
  • gastrointestinal       o nausea and/or vomiting       o diarrhea

Home Treatment

Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth. Give milk to drink.

Wash eyes with water if exposed.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the plant and parts eaten  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Bring the plant with you to the emergency room for identification.

What to expect at the emergency room

  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)
Oxalate plants may cause swelling severe enough to block the airway, but this is very rare.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.