Elephant ear

Poisoning caused by consumption of plant material from the elephant ear plant.

Poisonous Ingredient 

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

Note: Leaves and stems are the most dangerous if eaten in quantity.

Where Found 

  • Dieffenbachia  
  • Calla Lilly  
  • Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)  
  • Philodendron  
  • Alocasia  
  • Colocasia (elephant ears)  
  • Caladium  
  • Anthurium

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  
  • gastrointestinal       o nausea and/or vomiting       o diarrhea

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

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the plant  
  • 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 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, 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.