Is the popular decorative leaf that is cultivated in many living rooms actually poisonous? And how can the ingredients affect a possible allergy? This question should be asked before the attractive Spathiphyllum finds its way into your own home. But what precautionary measures should be observed and what about when a small child and free-range pets live in the household? The following article aims to answer these questions.


All parts of the single leaf contain oxalic acid. But this alone is not enough to cause poisoning, which is seriously dangerous, if a leaf is accidentally consumed. For this purpose, large quantities of the plant would usually have to be ingested. But the pungent substances in the sap can cause allergic reactions just by touching them.

Tip: Oxalic acid is found in many plants and also in those that are suitable for consumption. These include spinach, rhubarb and sorrel, just to name a few. In the single leaf, however, the concentration of the oxalic acid it contains is higher and consumption is therefore not recommended under any circumstances.


There are both external and internal symptoms, depending on whether parts of the plant have been consumed or just touched. The following symptoms indicate whether parts of the single sheet were accidentally put in the mouth or just touched:

  • Itching and burning of the skin
  • up to inflammation
  • Pain in the kidneys
  • Stomach and intestinal discomfort
  • Diarrhea and cramps
  • increased salivation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • swollen mucous membranes

Dangerous for children

For a small child, the single leaf can be quite dangerous. Because it is precisely the not yet fully grown small bodies that react to the sap and the substances it contains. All you have to do is tear off a leaf and a child can come into contact with the escaping juice. Therefore, a sheet in the apartment should only be inaccessible to the little ones, for example on a cupboard or a high shelf. Even if the skin reactions are uncomfortable for the child and can also cause pain, they are not dangerous and do not lead to long-lasting damage.

Tip: Older children from primary school age onwards can already be well explained to the dangers of the leaflet.

First aid

If a child has put parts of the sheet in their mouth during play and, in the worst case, even swallowed them and the symptoms mentioned occur, then they should act quickly but also keep calm. In case of doubt, an emergency doctor should always be called. The following measures can be taken during the waiting period:

  • do not force the child to vomit
  • Water can be served
  • refrain from administering activated charcoal
  • have a calming effect on the child
Tip: Small children should never play unsupervised, not even in their own home. In this way, consumption of the plant can be avoided right from the start.

Toxic to animals

The single leaf can also endanger animals. Rodents, birds, cats and dogs like to nibble on plants and can thus consume poisonous parts of the Spathiphyllum. Therefore, depending on the pet, it is better not to cultivate the plant in your own household. The plant should always stand in such a way that the animals cannot reach it. Cats like to jump and climb and birds fly, so the plant should always be in a different room. For dogs and rodents, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, it is sufficient if the single sheet is turned up. The symptoms in animals are as follows:

  • difficulties swallowing
  • increased salivation
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
Tip: If the pet shows one or more symptoms and there is a suspicion of nibbling on the plant, the veterinarian should immediately visit the animal emergency clinic so that suitable measures can be taken.

Triggering allergies

Spathiphyllum’s sap contains hot substances to which children in particular, but also adults, can have an allergic reaction. If the skin comes into contact with the exuding sap on leaves, stems and flower stalks, this results in mild irritation and even severe inflammation. These are usually itchy to painful. You should then proceed as follows:

  • Wash off briefly in the event of slight irritation
  • Apply anti-inflammatory cream if necessary
  • consult a doctor if there is inflammation
  • otherwise blood poisoning could result
Tip: Whether and how toxic the sheet is and how the symptoms show up in the event of poisoning or allergic reaction can also be inquired at the poison control center or on the website

The single leaf is poisonous when consumed very large and causes allergic reactions of the skin if it comes into contact with the leaking sap. Therefore, cultivation should ideally be avoided in a household with young children and pets. The plant should always stand in such a way that it cannot be easily reached. However, if a child shows symptoms of poisoning or allergic reactions, the emergency doctor should be contacted. With animals, going to the vet is unavoidable in such a case. In all cases, however, it is important to remain calm and to calm the affected child or animal until the respective doctor contacted can initiate appropriate measures. With quick help and only a little consumption, no permanent damage is to be feared.

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