Is Golden Pothos Toxic? Uncovering the Truth

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Golden Pothos is a popular houseplant that’s known for its attractive foliage and easy-to-care-for nature. However, there are concerns about the plant’s toxicity, particularly for pets and small children. In this article, we’ll explore the truth about Golden Pothos and its potential health risks, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to keep this plant in your home.

What Is Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy or Epipremnum aureum, is a popular houseplant in North America due to its hardiness and ability to thrive in various conditions. The plant features heart-shaped leaves with a beautiful golden hue that adds a touch of natural elegance to indoor spaces.

This evergreen vine is famous for its efficiency in purifying the air indoors. It can remove pollutants, such as formaldehyde and benzene, from the atmosphere, thereby making it a valuable addition to your home environment. It is also an excellent choice for people who are new to houseplants or those who want a low-maintenance plant.

Some varieties of Golden Pothos display different colors and patterns on their leaves, ranging from green with yellow or white variegation to a marbled, almost neon appearance. The plant can be grown both in soil or water and can tolerate low light conditions or fluorescent light, making it perfect for offices or rooms with limited sunlight.

However, it is essential to be cautious when dealing with Golden Pothos, as they contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals can cause irritation, burning, and excessive drooling in humans, pets, and children upon ingestion or direct contact due to their shard-like nature. In severe cases, it may lead to vomiting and difficulty swallowing for both animals and humans.

Despite its toxicity, Golden Pothos remains a favored choice for many plant enthusiasts due to its striking appearance, easy care, and air-purifying properties. However, it is crucial to ensure that the plant is kept out of reach from children and pets to prevent any accidental ingestion or skin contact.

Toxic Components of Golden Pothos

Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Golden Pothos plants contain toxic substances that can be harmful to humans and animals alike. The primary toxic component in these plants is insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are present within the leaves and stems of the plant and can lead to various symptoms upon contact or ingestion.

If a person or an animal ingests parts of a Golden Pothos plant, the calcium oxalate crystals can cause mouth irritation, swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, as well as difficulty swallowing. In more severe cases, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. It is vital to keep these plants out of reach of children and pets, as their natural curiosity may lead them to chew on the leaves.

In addition to ingesting the plant, contact with the calcium oxalate crystals can also cause skin irritation. The crystals can act like shards of glass, tearing and damaging the skin upon contact. This is particularly important to keep in mind when handling the plant for pruning or repotting, and it’s advisable to wear gloves as a precaution.

It’s essential to be aware of the toxic nature of Golden Pothos plants, especially for those who own pets or have children around. While the plants are not typically deadly, they can cause discomfort and distress to those who come into contact with them. By taking the necessary precautions, one can enjoy the beauty of a Golden Pothos plant while ensuring the safety of their family and furry friends.

Effects of Toxicity on Humans

Golden Pothos, a popular houseplant, contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals within its leaves and stems, which can be toxic to humans if ingested or touched. Exposure to this plant may result in a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to more severe reactions.

When ingested, the calcium oxalate crystals can cause pain and swelling in the mouth, throat, and tongue. Individuals may also experience difficulty swallowing and excessive drooling. In some cases, ingestion of Golden Pothos can lead to vomiting and decreased appetite.

Skin contact with the plant’s toxic constituents can lead to irritation and burning sensations. In more severe cases, this exposure can trigger atopic dermatitis, or eczema, especially in sensitive individuals.

To avoid these side effects, it is crucial to keep Golden Pothos out of reach of small children and be cautious while handling the plant. Wearing gloves and washing hands thoroughly after touching the plant can help minimize the risk of adverse reactions.

Effects of Toxicity on Pets

Golden pothos, a popular houseplant, can be toxic to pets, including cats and dogs. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that lead to various symptoms when chewed or ingested by animals.


When a cat chews on or ingests golden pothos, it can experience a range of symptoms related to the release of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Some common symptoms include:

  • Oral irritation
  • Intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing

In rare cases, swelling of the upper airway may occur, making it difficult for the cat to breathe. If you suspect your cat has consumed golden pothos, it is essential to seek veterinarian assistance immediately.


Dogs are also susceptible to the toxic effects of golden pothos. Just as with cats, the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals found in the plant cause symptoms upon ingestion. Some of the warning signs a dog may display include:

  • Severe oral pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Swelling of the mouth and throat

Ingesting golden pothos can be dangerous for dogs, so it’s crucial to keep an eye out for these symptoms and contact your veterinarian for guidance if you suspect exposure.

Prevention and Safety Measures

When handling golden pothos plants, it’s essential to take certain safety measures to prevent exposure to their toxic components. One critical step is to wear protective gloves while working with the plant, which helps to safeguard against the irritating calcium oxalate crystals found in the leaves and stems.

It’s also crucial to exercise caution by avoiding touching one’s face, particularly the eyes, while handling these plants. This helps to minimize the risk of skin irritation or more severe consequences, such as intense burning sensations in the mouth, tongue, and lips.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep golden pothos plants out of reach from children, cats, and dogs. This can be achieved by placing the plant on high shelves or in hanging pots that are inaccessible to curious pets and youngsters.

When it comes to caring for the plant itself, always wash gardening tools after use to prevent contamination and the potential transfer of toxins to other plants.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your household, follow these prevention and safety measures while growing and maintaining your golden pothos plants.

Treatment for Golden Pothos Poisoning

When an individual has been exposed to Golden Pothos and displays symptoms of poisoning, it is crucial to seek treatment as soon as possible. Initial steps involve mitigating pain and discomfort in the mouth, throat, and stomach. For this purpose, the affected person’s mouth should be rinsed thoroughly to remove any residual calcium oxalate crystals, which are the main cause of irritation and inflammation (source).

It is important to monitor the individual for any severe symptoms, such as excessive drooling, swelling of lips, tongue, throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. These side effects occur as a result of the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals present in the plant’s leaves and stems (source). Persistent irritation in the mouth and throat may cause difficulty in swallowing, affecting one’s appetite. Therefore, keeping an eye on the person’s food intake ensures that they maintain adequate nourishment while recovering.

In case of skin irritation caused by contact with the Golden Pothos, gently washing the affected area with water and mild soap can help in reducing inflammation. Applying a topical cream may also aid in soothing the skin (source).

For pet owners, be vigilant and prevent your pets from ingesting any parts of the Golden Pothos plant. If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to the plant, contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (source).

It is essential to act quickly when dealing with Golden Pothos poisoning, as timely treatment ensures a better chance of full recovery.

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