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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: Do you know of any plants that can cause the vocal chords to be paralyzed?


QUESTION:
I was wondering if you have ever run across a plant that causes vocal cords to be paralyzed. I have searched everywhere I can think of and have found some neuromuscular problems listed but nothing specific in regards to vocal cords. Aesculus californica?

ANSWER:

Fuller and McClintock (Poisonous Plants of California) list a lot of symptoms of buckeye poisoning, but aphonia is not one of them. I grew up in Northern California among those trees, and remember that they lost there leaves when the weather turned hot, that the buckeyes were ideal for throwing at things, but the only animals I ever lost to them were in a beehive I had as a 4H project. I will keep my eyes open, but the only poisons that stop speech that I know of are the Dieffenbachias, Philodendrons, jack-in-the-pulpit and other plants with irritating oxylate crystal raphides Those work by causing swelling of the tongue, and lips and mouth (although if any chewed tissue did reach the vocal cords, they would probably become inflamed, too.