Dieffenbachia seguine 花葉萬年青

Araceae 天南星科




Whole plant, especially the stems.3


  • Toxic Constituents
    Calcium oxalate raphides and dumbcain.3–6
  • Toxic Dose
    A small piece of the plant can be toxic.3,7
  • Mechanism
    The toxic mechanism of the poisonous plants in the Araceae family is not fully understood. Calcium oxalate raphides stored in specialised cells known as idioblasts are released when subjected to mechanical pressure such as ingestion and contact, causing tissue irritation and inflammation. Other toxic ingredients that are commonly found in the family, such as sapotoxins and cyanogenic glycosides, may also play a role.3,8
  • Poisoning Features
    Skin contact: itchiness, burning sensation, irritant contact dermatitis. Eye contact: severe pain, lacrimation, corneal abrasion and keratoconjunctivitis. Ingestion: severe pain, burning sensation and inflammation of the oral cavity, tongue, throat and oesophagus; it can also cause salivation, dysphagia, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysphonia and airway obstruction.5,9
  • Poisoning Events
    Cases of D. seguine poisoning have been reported worldwide. In the United States, a 69-year-old man misidentified the plant as “sugar cane” and bit the stem. He experienced severe oral pain and spat it out immediately. He developed dysphagia, salivation and glossitis. Despite emergency supportive therapy, he gradually developed increasing dyspnoea necessitating an emergent tracheostomy. Subsequently he fully recovered.9–12


Supportive treatment. Maintenance of airway by intubation or tracheostomy may be required for severe cases with airway compromise.5,9


Perennial herbs. Stems about 1 m high, 1.5–2.5 cm thick, internodes 2–4 cm long. Petioles sheathing below; leaf blades 15–30 × 7–12 cm, dark green on both surfaces, shiny, with irregular oblong, white or yellow-green patches between veins, lateral veins elevated abaxially. Peduncles short; spathes narrow, cuspidate. Berries orange-green.2


Calcium oxalate raphides can be detected by polarizing microscopy.13