Dieffenbachia – Big Leaves with Big Grief

Dieffenbachia - Big Leaves with Big Grief


Dieffenbachia is the genus of several flowering plants that grow and are native to the New World Tropics. They can be found all the way from Mexico to Argentina, in the West Indies.

These perennial herbaceous plants are cultivated as ornamental plants. They are used as household plants due to their high tolerance to shade. They are also known as dumb cane and mother-in-law’s tongue.

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Characteristics of Dieffenbachias

There are 56 identified species of the Dieffenbachia genus. In order to grow these plants, they must be placed indoors in temperate areas. Their large leaves have a nice variation of green and white patterns.

The plants may grow to over six feet tall. Sometimes, they might flower but the majority do not produce any fruit at all. It is not easy to determine if the Dieffenbachia growing in your backyard is poisonous or not. The best course of action, in this case, is to get rid of any plant growing in your backyard, either poisonous or not.

Toxicity to Pets

If you have a dog that has the tendency of chewing on everything, it is best that you get rid of any Dieffenbachia plant. The toxicity of the plant in cats and dogs is due to the insoluble oxalate crystals and acid found in the stem and leaves.

This naturally-occurring poison is a defense mechanism of the plant to deter pests. When your pet chews on the Dieffenbachia plant, the crystals are quickly released into your dog’s mouth, tongue and throat.

But not only the stem and leaves are known to be toxic to pets. The rest of the plant also contains some acid and other enzymes not identified yet.

Symptoms to Look For

The consumption of this plant can cause symptoms typical of a stomach distress. This includes vomiting in dogs and cats and diarrhea in dogs and cats. The calcium oxalate needles and the oxalic acid cause blistering and swelling of the mouth.

Although these substances are not considered fatal, they do cause your pet to suffer due to distress. It does become lethal if your pet has an allergic reaction. It must be treated right away.

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