This article describes poisoning caused by eating parts of the Caladium plant and other plants belonging to the Araceae family.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Alocasia plant poisoning; Angel wings plant poisoning; Colocasia plant poisoning; Heart of Jesus plant poisoning; Texas Wonder plant poisoning
Calcium oxalate crystals
Asparagine, a protein found in the plant
Note: All parts of the plants are poisonous if large amounts are eaten.
Caladium and related plants may be purchased as houseplants or used in landscapes. Types include Caladium esculentum and Caladium bicolor.
Eating parts of the plant causes a severe burning in mouth and throat. Other symptoms may include:
Burning in mouth or throat
Damage to cornea of the eye
Nausea or vomiting
Swelling and blistering in the mouth or tongue
Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.
Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth, and give milk to drink. Call poison control for more treatment information. If your eyes or skin touched the plant, rinse them well with water.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
The patient's age, weight, and condition
The name of the plant and the parts eaten
The amount swallowed
The time it was swallowed
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the plant with you to the hospital, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.
For those who do not have severe oral contact with the plant, symptoms usually resolve within a few days. For those who do have severe contact with the plant, a longer recovery time may be necessary.
Do not touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.
Hostetler MA, Schneider SM. Poisonous plants. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 205.
Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.