The Anthurium andraeanum plants are a species of ornamental plants. They’re known for their large, fleshy leaves that are typically heart-shaped and about 7–20 inches wide.
Anthuriums also have bright flowers that are bright pink or red and are approximately 4–6 inches long. In the mid-section of the flowers is a central spadix, which can be either yellow or white, and is between 3 and 5 inches long.
Despite being so striking and exotic, many people still wonder, ‘Are anthuriums toxic?’
The quick answer is yes! These plants can be highly lethal if ingested.
Scroll down to find out more.
Anthuriums are tropical plants that are native to parts of Central and South America. Yet, they’ve made the transition to flowering houseplants with ease.
These evergreen perennial plants are often chosen for their low maintenance and long blooming time. They’ll continue to flower year after year provided that all their needs are met and that conditions are right.
Speaking of soil, these colorful plants prefer a freely draining soil-less mix, which is usually made up of peat moss, leaf mold, sphagnum moss, and some coarse sand.
To keep them blooming and healthy all year long, as well as make up for the lack of nutrients in their ‘soil,’ experts recommend that you feed them a high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer every 3–4 months. Just make sure you dilute the fertilizer in three parts water before applying it to your anthuriums.
One of the noticeable benefits of having anthuriums in your home is that they do a terrific job of purifying the air of almost all types of toxic particles. They even secrete certain substances that get rid of viruses and molds in the air.
This is why anthuriums top the list when it comes to plants that help clean and refresh the air in your home. According to the NASA Clean Air Study carried out in 1989, anthuriums are one of the most effective air-purifying houseplants!
Anthuriums are extremely toxic to humans because the leaves contain high levels of calcium oxalate crystals.
If anyone ingests it, they’ll feel a painful, burning sensation in their throat. They may even develop swelling, blisters, and ulcers on the sides and roof of their mouth.
They can also cause severe inflammation of the stomach lining, the GI tract, as well as irritation of the mucous membranes of the throat.
Calcium oxalate crystals are a salt compound made up of oxalic acid and calcium. They’re one of the main components of kidney stones.
They’re also what leave behind those scale-like deposits in containers and barrels typically used to brew beer.
It’s worth noting that anthuriums aren’t the only plants that contain calcium oxalate. As a matter of fact, there are quite a number of plants that contain this salt compound in varying degrees.
The good news is that with edible plants, the crystals are broken down during the cooking process. Yet, it’s the inedible ones that you have to stay away from because they’re the ones that contain much higher levels of this deadly compound.
Here are some plants that contain calcium oxalate:
- Rhubarb leaves
- Spinach, chard, and beet leaves
- Oxalis (wood sorrel)
- Spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon
- Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
- Dieffenbachia (dumb cane)
Also known as tail flower, lace leaf, and flamingo lily, this plant has a clear, semi-liquid sap. If you come in contact with it, it can cause skin and eye irritations.
The enzymes in the sap can also result in an allergic reaction that may become fatal if not handled immediately.
Plus, the pollen that results during flowering is a relatively strong allergen. So, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, avoid going anywhere near the flowers to prevent sneezing, coughing, or shortness of breath that may occur.
The leaves can also cause allergies in people with sensitive skin or who are prone to allergic reactions.
That’s why whenever you need to handle your plants, like when you’re pruning, propagating, or repotting, make sure you wear heavy-duty gardening gloves. You can also opt to wear goggles to protect your eyes as well.
Anthuriums are much more toxic to pets than they are to humans because their digestive system can’t handle the intense acidity of the calcium oxalate crystals.
Keep reading to find out how these plants can affect cats and dogs.
Cats are curious creatures, which means they won’t pass up an opportunity to take a small bite out of these bright-colored plants. Yet, because they’re quite bitter, they won’t be able to do anything more than taste even if they wanted to.
Unfortunately, even a small nibble of this plant can cause extreme cases of oral irritation.
Your cat may start to drool because of the swelling in her mouth, tongue, and mucous membranes. She may even have difficulty swallowing or breathing.
The symptoms of anthurium poisoning in dogs are pretty much the same as they are for cats.
The first sign is if your pooch starts pawing at his mouth. He may also appear to drool and become lethargic more than usual.
You may even notice that there’s swelling around the outside of his mouth. This can lead to swelling of the throat, which results in difficulty swallowing and breathing.
Then, there are symptoms related to his digestion, like lack of appetite, signs of discomfort when eating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Eye and skin irritations are other possible symptoms. Yet, the latter can be difficult to make out underneath their fur.
If you suspect your pet has consumed any amount of anthurium, you need to rush to the vet immediately. Take note of the amount that was ingested before going to the vet.
Having that information can help your vet better understand your pet’s condition and ultimately determine the best course of action when treating your furry friend.
The good news is that most of the symptoms go away on their own after a while, and the vet will usually recommend keeping your pet well-hydrated and rested.
On the other hand, if the symptoms include breathing difficulties, then this means that your pet will need immediate treatment. Your vet may even keep it overnight for observation just to make sure the symptoms don’t become more severe.
Since we’ve learned of the dangers of having anthuriums when you have pets and kids running around, we need to learn how to protect them.
The most obvious solution is to keep the plant out of their reach. You can place them on high shelves or bookcases.
Just make sure you choose spots that your cat will have a hard time getting to. If you can, try to keep them in rooms that your pets don’t have access to.
Another option is to hang them from hooks nailed to the ceiling. Not only will they be out of the way, but they’ll also make a nice addition to your home decor.
Experts also recommend using citrus on your anthurium plant to keep your pets away. Generally, neither cats nor dogs like the scent of citrus.
It’s too intense for their liking, so they try to stay as far away as they can.
So, why not take advantage of this natural deterrent?
One thing you can do is place a few pieces of citrus peel around the base of the plant. You can also spritz the leaves with any type of citrus essential oil or juice.
Bear in mind that essential oils can weaken the roots of the plant. So, make sure you spray only the leaves and stay away from the soil.
A third option is to train your pets to not go anywhere near the anthurium.
The most effective technique is to keep a spray bottle filled with water near the plant. Then, anytime your pet comes near the plant, give them a quick spray once or twice.
They’ll quickly learn the hard way to stay away.
While it’s a pretty effective training technique in general, it’s not guaranteed that it’ll work for all pets, nor can you use it on your kids. Yet, it’s worth giving it a try and seeing how your pets will react.
You should only keep your anthuriums within reach, only if you have older children, babies who haven’t learned to walk yet, or easier still, no children at all!
So, are anthuriums toxic? Yes!
Every part of the plant contains high levels of calcium oxalate crystals, which, when ingested, get absorbed into the tissues and mucous membranes. This results in a whole slew of unfavorable symptoms like swelling, inflammation, and more!
In spite of that, they’re still one of the most popular houseplants that look amazing in any room. Not only that, but they do a wonderful job of purifying the air as well!
So, they’re definitely worth the trouble.
The good news is that it’s easy to protect yourself and your family. All it takes is a bit of know-how and a few tricks of the trade to help you steer clear of this plant’s toxicity.
Just use the tips and techniques in our handy guide and you’ll have nothing to worry about!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.