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BRIEF: Are Chephalara plants and Philodendra plants poisonous?


QUESTION:
I have a 7 month old who is about to start crawling. So I've been moving my plants around so that I can secure atleast one room in my house for her. Are Chephalara plants and Philodendra plants poisonous?

ANSWER:

Philodendron and Schefflera specicies both cause painful swelling of the mouth and tongue if chewed (due to microsopic oxylate raphides) and further misery due to an alkyl resorcinol in the Philodendron and falcarinol (spelling?) in the Shefflera. That is why they make such good house plants...even insects and vermin won't touch them! I would keep them out of reach of of your youngster, they are not deadly, but the pain is tremendous, and sufficient swelling of the throat could theoretically be lethal if it cut off breathing (speculation, I have never heard of a case this bad!). One child did suffer temporary eye injury when the juice got in his eye.