Be careful with these 6 indoor plants

Although indoor plants brighten our homes and purify our environments, we must know that some of them have levels of toxicity that can be harmful to us or our pets.

A tree throws poisoned daggers, a bright red seed paralyzes the heart, a bush causes unbearable pain... The plant kingdom hides indescribable evils and some of them may be present in our homes.

In the 1844 story "Rappaccini's daughter", the American Gothic writer Nathaniel Hawthorne described an old doctor who tended a secret garden full of poisonous plants. The old man's behavior towards the bushes and vines “It was like that of a man who walks among evil forces, such as wild beasts, poisonous snakes or evil spirits, that if he gives them a little freedom, they will bring you a terrible ruin.".

It's funny, but most of us look at gardens and plants with a certain naive faith. We will never pick up a coffee cup found on the sidewalk and drink from it, but we can pick and chew berries we find while walking in the countryside without even knowing if they are edible or not.

Or when a couple has children, they rush to cover the outlet and ignore the plants in the kitchen and living room, while in the United States, for example, each year about 4.000 people are injured by electrical outlets and almost 70.000 people They are poisoned by plants.

Inside plants
datura inoxia

In nature we not only find dangerous plants, such as the so-called finger tree whose scientific name is Euphorbia Tiruculli. native to the tropical regions of Latin America, whose stinging sap causes hives on the skin, or datura inoxia which causes hallucinations, the Aztecs called it toloatzin. This white flower, with a powerful effect, is full of alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine.

Dangerous plants also appear in our gardens and homes. Some of them are considered toxic, such as the Poinsettia or Poinsettia, one of the most repudiated indoor plants for this reason, but it is not as toxic as its reputation might suggest as it belongs to the family of plants. Euphorbiaceae. The sap from it only causes slight irritation, but nothing more than that.

By the way, remember that many of our potted plants are actually tropical plants from the jungles of South America and Africa, as they can thrive in climates with stable temperatures ranging between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius.

So instead of looking down on the Poinsettia, let's look at other plants that don't get enough attention despite their more toxic properties.

Six toxic houseplants

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp)

It is a South American plant with beautiful white, candle-shaped flowers that has become fashionable as an air purifier in the home. Well, it causes more poisonings each year in the United States than any other plant, perhaps because it is so common in this country.

The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause skin irritation, mouth irritation, difficulty swallowing, and nausea.

common ivy (Hedera helix)

This popular vine grows outdoors, but it is also one of the most popular houseplants. The berries are bitter enough to discourage people from eating them, but they can cause serious gastrointestinal problems and possible respiratory problems or delirium. The sap from the leaves can cause severe skin irritation and blistering.

Philodendron (Philodendron spp)

With more than 700 described species, many of which remain undescribed, it is cultivated as an ornamental plant. All parts of the plant are poisonous because they contain calcium oxalate crystals.

Biting into the leaves may only cause a mild burning sensation in the mouth or mild nausea, but swallowing them can cause severe stomach pain, and repeated contact with the skin can cause a severe allergic reaction.

Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp)

It is native to South America and is known for its ability to temporarily inflame the vocal cords, leaving people unable to speak. Some species are said to have been used as arrow poison in combination with other plants.

It contains needle-shaped (acicular) calcium oxalate crystals called raphides, as well as other enzymes that enhance its toxic effects. Most cases of poisoning involve severe irritation of the mouth and throat, swelling of the tongue and face, and stomach problems.

The sap also irritates the skin and can cause sensitivity to light and pain when it comes into contact with the eyes or heart problems if it enters the bloodstream. Its stem is the one that produces the most serious reactions.

Disciplinilla de Cuba or tree of the fingers (Euphorbia Tiruculli.)

Endemic to the dry tropics of Africa, it can be found in other tropical regions of the world. It has become popular in modern interior design due to its impressive architectural form.

Its name is due to its long, thin stem that is reminiscent of a succulent plant. Like other euphorbias, the irritant sap causes severe skin rashes and eye irritation.

Some pruning is required to maintain a manageable size indoors, and surprisingly, one pruning session can cause a painful reaction.

Jerusalem cherry or Indian cherries (Solanum pseudocapsicum)

Its name comes from a cherry-like fruit that is commonly sold as an ornamental pepper plant, but is actually more closely related to Belladonna. All parts of the plant contain the alkaloids solanine and solanocapsin, which can cause weakness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and heart problems.

In any case, science is doing research this plant because in adequate doses it seems capable of reducing cancerous tumors.

So now you know, if you like indoor plants, avoid these species or be very careful when handling them.

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