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BRIEF: Is Scindapsus aureus hazardous to the public?


QUESTION:
We are an interior landscaping co maintaining tropical and subtropical plants in commercial buildings. We have used Pothos (Scindapsus Aureus) as a trailing plant for years and is the most widely used plant in our industry. Recently we have been requested to remove them from a hospital that we service. It was found listed on their poisonus plant list and they were concerned. Could you fill me in on whether it is a plant variety that we should be concerned about? Is it truely a hazard to the public?

ANSWER:

Like so many other indoor plants, Scindapsus Aureus (aka Epipremnum aureum) contains little, tiny microscopic needle-like calcium oxylate crystals. When someone chews on these leaves, it hurts like hell, because of the irritation and inflamation caused by these little needles. The tongue and lips can be swollen, and if swallowed, the gut reacts enough to cause diarrhea. Kids do munch on this from time to time, and Alzheimer patients have been known to chow down on other house plants, but I don't know if the have eaten this one yet. If a person's memory is still intact, then it is not a plant they chew on twice - it hurts too much. I know of no serious injuries or deaths from contact with this plant. Philodrendrons, Dieffenbachias and a number of other house plants do the same thing. Your plant (called pothos some places) also causes a rash in some nursery workers that handle it all the time, probably both physical damage and allergic reactions. If your clients have little kids or senile patients in house, then I can understand their concern. Unfortunately, truly edible house plants would probably be beset by insects, mice and other critters.