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Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Humans, Pets, & Wildlife?

Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Humans, Pets, & Wildlife?

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A touch of green can bring vibrancy and color to an otherwise dull room. As such, having plants like the Zamioculcas zamiifolia indoors has been becoming a trend lately.

So, you might be thinking of having one or two of these flora inside your home. After all, ZZ plants do make excellent ornaments, be they in offices, kitchens, hallways, or living rooms.

However, if you have pets or children, you may be concerned about the safety of having these plants in your home. So, are ZZ plants toxic?

Let’s answer all your questions about ZZ plants below.

Overview of Zamioculcas Zamiifolia or ZZ Plant

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or ZZ plant, is a perennial known for its elegantly erect stems and lined-up leaves. People often associate these plants with good fortune and luck.

ZZ plants are native to Africa, particularly in South Africa and Kenya. These plants are a member of the Araceae family, comprising over 4000 types of flowering plants.

You can identify a ZZ plant from its straight stems. Their stems shoot shiny oval-shaped leaves lining from the middle sections up to the tips.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a hardy flora that can survive virtually anywhere, even in low light conditions. This trait makes them perfect indoor companions, as they require minimal care.

Are ZZ Plants Toxic?

As attractive as they are, ZZ plants are toxic houseplants. All parts of the flora are poisonous, including the seeds, roots, stems, dark green leaves, and sap.

What makes the ZZ plant poisonous is its calcium oxalate content. These sharp, needle-like crystals can cause intense pain and swelling in the affected area.

Calcium oxalate is a naturally occurring compound found both in plants and animals. It’s the same compound that makes up kidney stones in humans.

Still, it’s worth noting that there’s no evidence to suggest that ZZ plants are deadly. So while these floras are certainly toxic, they create milder symptoms than other poisonous flowers.

Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Pets?

Unfortunately, pets and ZZ plants don’t mix well, especially if your furry companion has a habit of chewing, which is typical for cats and dogs.

See, all parts of the ZZ plant contain calcium oxalate. So accidental ingestion or chewing can trigger adverse reactions in your pets.

The calcium oxalate will pierce sensitive areas, including the tongue, throat, and gums. It induces a painful experience, similar to eating sharp ground glass.

This results in swelling of the said areas, affecting your pet’s appetite. As such, we recommend keeping these plants away from nibbling animals.

Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Humans?

As with pets, the ZZ plant is also toxic and poisonous to humans. And they can induce similar symptoms when swallowed or chewed accidentally.

For humans, accidental consumption may result in severe pain, swelling in the throat, and vomiting. Contact with the plant’s stem, leaves, and sap may cause skin or eye irritation.

Skin irritation from the ZZ plant usually causes red, itchy, painful, and rash-like patches. You may also experience itching, redness, and watery eyes if the sap reaches your eyes.

For this reason, you should always use protective gloves when handling these floras. Most importantly, avoid placing your ZZ plant in spots reachable by curious children.

Are ZZ Plants Harmful to Wildlife?

Any plant containing calcium oxalate is generally toxic to any wildlife. But because of their irritant properties, most animals avoid consuming these flowers in the wild.

There are over 2000 species of aroid plants similar to Zamioculcas zamiifolia, but only a handful are edible for animals.

Do ZZ Plants Cause Allergies?

The calcium oxalate content of ZZ plants doesn’t cause allergies. But it can create symptoms similar to allergic reactions, such as rashes, swelling, diarrhea, and vomiting.

It’s worth mentioning that calcium oxalate is an ordinary biomineral product of plants, including consumable types. Leafy greens and legumes often contain considerable amounts of oxalate.

How to Deal with ZZ Plant Irritation

The effects of ZZ plant irritation can be mild compared to other houseplants. Still, they can be uncomfortable and painful for you and your pets, so knowing how to deal with them is essential.

ZZ Plant Irritation in Pets

If your pet swallowed or chewed parts of a ZZ plant, wipe the residues from its mouth. Remove any remaining plant material from inside the animal’s mouth as well.

After removing ZZ plant residues, wash your pet’s mouth using clean, cool water. The furry creature can exhibit vomiting or diarrhea, but it’ll pass after some time.

Your pet should recover after a few hours of rest. But if the symptoms continue, it’s best to contact your veterinarian.

That said, never try to induce vomiting in your pet using Ipecac or hydrogen peroxide. Leave the treatment to the experts, no matter what you may have read on the internet!

ZZ Plant Irritation in Children

ZZ plant poisoning is uncommon in children, as the painful sensation of chewing these plants prevents them from swallowing considerable amounts of the plant material.

Still, knowing how to treat such cases can go a long way.

Skin irritations caused by contact with ZZ plant sap can result in rashes or painful patches on the child’s skin. You can deal with it by washing the affected area with soap and warm water.

However, if a child ingests any oxalate-containing plant material, the first thing to do is to clean the child’s mouth. Remove any debris and wipe ZZ plant residues.

A cool drink or snack, such as yogurt, popsicles, or applesauce, should alleviate the pain. But if you notice swelling in the mouth or difficulty breathing, bring the child to the nearest hospital.

Are There Benefits to Having ZZ Plants?

Now that you know the risks of ZZ plants, you may be thinking about whether they’re still worth getting. So, here are some benefits of Zamioculcas zamiifolia inside your home:

1 – Air Purifying Properties

One compelling benefit of having houseplants around is their air-purifying abilities. In fact, a NASA study found that interior flora, like the ZZ plant, can significantly enhance air quality.

Recent studies from the USDA also revealed how the Zamioculcas zamiifolia effectively filters pollutants from the air. And several studies back this conclusion over the years.

ZZ plants can help remove harmful impurities from cigarettes, chemicals, and solvents. They reduce volatile organic compounds, which are known for their adverse health effects.

2 – Hardy and Low-Maintenance

Another advantage of Zamioculcas zamiifolia is they’re easy to maintain. So, you won’t spend as much time caring for these plants as other indoor floras.

ZZ plants only need adequate light and watering every couple of weeks. And you won’t have to worry about constantly watering them as they’re drought-tolerant.

These tropical plants are almost impossible to kill by neglect. Formidable qualities like these make them the perfect candidate for newbie indoor gardeners.

3 – Excellent Ornamental Value

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is an excellent addition to your home’s interior design. They’re comfortable to the eyes yet classy and elegant.

They can suit a wide variety of living room, office, or hallway aesthetics. And the straight stems and attractively green leaves often make people believe they’re decorative plastic.

You can position the ZZ plant virtually anywhere in your house. The only thing to avoid is putting them under direct sunlight, as the heat can scorch their leaves.

Tips When Handling Toxic Houseplants

Protecting yourself and your pets is crucial when dealing with toxic floras. Here are some tips when interacting with your ZZ plant.

1 – Wear Protective Gloves

Wearing protective gloves is an excellent practice when gardening. It protects your hands against cuts, insects, and toxic plant saps.

So, whether you’re pruning, repotting, watering, or simply admiring your ZZ plant, make it a habit to wear gloves beforehand.

2 – Wash Your Hands

Handwashing is another fantastic habit when handling toxic houseplants, especially if you have floras that cause dermatitis reactions on the skin.

The CDC recommends frequent handwashing using warm water and degreasing soaps after contacting poisonous plants.

3 – Protect the Plant

Keeping toxic flowers and plants away from pets is an essential rule. If you have children, instruct them to steer clear of these floras.

Plant guard cages should keep your pets from eating the houseplants. It protects both the plants and your household companions.

Final Thoughts

ZZ plants are popular perennials that are mildly toxic to humans and animals. They contain calcium oxalate, a sharp, needle-like compound that can cut sensitive skin tissues.

Nevertheless, having Zamioculcas zamiifolia under your roof brings several benefits. They clean the air, are low-maintenance, and are pleasing to the eyes!

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