WARNING Elephant ears and other dangerous plants

goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))October 13, 2008

Just wanted to add a word of warning to all you garden junkers using plants in your crafts.On the Florida Gardening Forum one of our posters stated that while whacking at some Elephant Ears a bug flew in her mouth and she grabbed at it.Unfortunately the insect did no harm but the Elephant Ear toxins got the best of her and she is in excruciating mouth and throat pain. Always be careful in the garden as many plants can cause injury or burning to eyes,nose mouth and skin.

On the butterfly forum I remember someone who rubbed her eyes after harvesting some milkweed for her caterpillars. She nearly lost the sight of that eye.

While gardening is heaven on earth we must be careful to not let our guard down and end up with injuries from our hobby!

Always wash hands and do not touch your face until you have done so.Teach the kids and grandkids that rule along with the garden fun and we can all live healthy ever after.

Here is an exerpt about the ingredient calcium oxalate in E-Ears that she shared:

"Even a small dose of calcium oxalate is enough to cause intense sensations of burning in the mouth and throat, swelling, and choking. In larger doses, however, calcium oxalate causes severe digestive upset, breathing difficulties and  if enough is consumed  convulsions, coma and death. Recovery from severe oxalate poisoning is possible, but permanent liver and kidney damage may have occurred.

The stalk of the Dieffenbachia produces the most severe reactions. These needle-like crystals produce pain and edema when they contact lips, tongue, oral mucosa, conjunctiva, or skin. Edema primarily is due to direct trauma from the needle-like crystals and, to a lesser extent, by other plant toxins (e.g. bradykinins, enzymes)."

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Thank You, I did not know these things...

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 1:33PM
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Carol Patterson

I knew Elephant Ears were toxic,and have been around them since I was a kid, but I didn't know they caused skin irritation until I started peeling some off the concrete cast. It felt like I had Fiberglas fibers in my fingers--prickly & itchy. As soon as I washed my hands, it went away. I'm glad I didn't rub my eyes.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Thanks for the info. Many plants that we deal with daily can be very danderous, we just don't know it. Always pays to be careful anytime we do out door work.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 6:15PM
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I'm assumming that dogs (pets) are also at risk? I had hoped to plant some next spring around a planned pond. However with a small poodle and yorkie I may have to find a substitute. Also have an itch to try making the concrete leaves someday.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 6:40PM
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Wow! Thank YOU! I was just inquiring on the Pa. site about whacking the leaves and stems off for winter storage. I will now use some disposable gloves for that job! WHEW!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 3:47PM
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Also another thing Sago Palms are EXTREMELY poisonous to dogs, Im not sure about people but just thought Id let the dog lovers on the forums know.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 7:28PM
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Marlene Kindred

Wow. Thanks for the info. I think I'm glad I don't have any Elephant Ears in my garden......

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 6:07PM
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nanagrandma(9 SouthWest, Calif)

Wow! Thank You for this information, I love Elephant Ears as a matter of fact I have them growing right now! I will be very careful with them and make sure my grandbabies do not get injured. I will be wearing my garden gloves for sure!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 11:21PM
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tennesseetrash(7 east tenn)

Golden, thanks for posting this warning! Diffenbacia (dumb cane), philodendron are a couple of common house plants that are toxic. Pencil cactus, & so many more!

I love my 2 different species of elephant ears, but they are way down back where the grandkids are never unsupervised. Same with my houseplants, I have some toxic ones, and just try to make sure the kids are never unattended around them. And I try to keep them where they're not easily attainable by them.

Anyhow ... I always wear gloves when gardening. Always! (for 30+ years now) And I've never gotten poison oak or ivy rashes or anything like that. Good fitting leather gloves are best. They last for years, and are like a true second skin. Worth the investment. They have kept my hands from getting cut or injured outside so many times.

Be safe and don't be eating or handling any plants that you're not sure about, and watch the kids & pets! Take precautions by using clothing and gloves when handling. Watch out rubbing your eyes, etc after handing them too. Always wash up really good after playing in the dirt!

Now as for bugs flying into your mouth outside ... yep stuff like that can happen! I've got a friend who had a bug fly into his ear when we were sitting around a swimming pool outside one night ... it's funny to think of him stomping the floor board in the car everytime the bug would move in his ear when we were on the way to the hospital LOL! but I'm sure he didn't think it was funny at all! Awww, sweet memories lol ~tenderlee :-)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 9:50AM
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adina72(z5 CNY)

I pretty much treat every plant as poisonous because you just never know. Though I love to garden with bare hands, I now wear gloves just in case and keep a golf towel attached to my belt loops in case I do need to wipe my face and eyes. Always good to remind everyone now and then.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 3:09PM
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I just slashed the growth off my Elephant Ear and pulled the bulb (it's about 6" in dia)for storage until spring. I got all kinds of sap or liquid on my hands but no known ill effects. Luck is still on my side, I guess. Thanks or the warning!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 1:57AM
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