Is Pothos Poisonous? Unveiling the Plant’s Risks

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Is Pothos Poisonous
Golden green pothos or Epipremnum aureum on table at window with sunlight in home and garden.

Pothos, with its beautiful foliage and easy-to-grow nature, is a popular houseplant. However, pet owners and parents may wonder whether it’s toxic. In this article, we’ll explore the potential dangers of Pothos and how to keep your loved ones safe around this plant.

Is Pothos Poisonous?

Pothos plants, also known as Epipremnum aureum, are indeed poisonous if ingested. These popular houseplants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in their leaves and stems, which can cause considerable discomfort and health problems for those who come into contact with them.

When consumed by humans, the calcium oxalate crystals can lead to irritation of the lips and tongue, causing a burning sensation. Ingesting pothos may also result in vomiting, making it essential to keep the plant away from children(source). Although they are not typically known to be fatal, it is best to exercise caution and avoid ingesting any part of the plant.

It is not only humans who need to be cautious around pothos plants: they are also toxic to pets. Dogs and cats may experience symptoms such as vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing if they consume pothos(source). Moreover, pothos poisoning could lead to respiratory problems, liver and kidney failure, and even digestive damage in pets(source).

In addition to avoiding ingestion, it is also wise to be mindful of skin contact with pothos plants. The sap may cause skin irritation if touched. To ensure the safety of adults, children, and pets, it is a good idea to place pothos plants in an area where they are not easily accessible, and always wash your hands after handling the plant.

Effects of Pothos Poisoning

In Humans

Pothos plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals within their leaves and stems, which can be toxic to humans when ingested or cause skin irritation when touched1. If a person were to ingest pothos, they might experience symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

In more severe cases, pothos poisoning has the potential to cause seizures and even death2. It is crucial to keep pothos plants out of reach from children to minimize the risks associated with accidental ingestion.

In Pets

Pothos poisoning is also harmful to pets, such as cats and dogs. When a pet consumes a pothos plant, they might exhibit symptoms similar to those in humans, with some additional effects3. These may include:

  • Excessive drooling due to the burning sensation in the mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Respiratory problems
  • Liver and kidney failure in extreme cases

If a pet displays signs of pothos poisoning, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure proper treatment and recovery4. It is advisable for pet owners to keep pothos plants away from their pets to prevent accidental ingestion and potential health complications.

Prevention and Management

When it comes to dealing with the potential toxicity of pothos plants, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure safety for both humans and pets.

Handling and Placement

First and foremost, it is essential to be cautious when handling pothos plants. It is recommended to wear protective gloves to prevent skin irritation, as the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals which can be harmful if touched. Besides handling precautions, it’s crucial to place the plant in an area that is out of reach for children and pets. This can be on a high shelf or in a room where access can be controlled.

Treatment Methods

In the event of accidental ingestion or skin contact with a pothos plant, there are several treatment methods that can help alleviate symptoms:

  • Mouth irritation: Rinse the mouth with cold water or milk to help neutralize the effects of the calcium oxalate crystals. Avoid brushing teeth or rubbing the mouth, as this could make irritation worse. Consult a healthcare provider if symptoms persist.
  • Skin irritation: Immediately wash the affected area with soap and cold water. If irritation continues, apply a cold compress or calamine lotion to soothe the skin. Seek medical assistance if the skin reaction does not improve within a few hours.
  • Ingestion: In case of ingestion, consult a healthcare provider or poison control center immediately. They can provide guidance based on the specific symptoms experienced, which may include mouth burning, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat.

By following these steps, it’s possible to minimize the risk of harm related to pothos’ potential toxicity and create a safe environment for everyone in the household.

Alternative Non-Toxic Houseplants

For those looking for beautiful, low-maintenance alternatives to pothos that are safe for humans and pets, there are several options to consider. Non-toxic houseplants can still provide the aesthetics and air-purifying benefits while minimizing the risks posed by poisonous plants.

A great alternative to pothos is peperomia. This plant has a similar trailing habit, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate the crawling and trailing features of pothos. Additionally, peperomia is safe for pets and children, so you don’t have to worry about its potential toxicity.

Another option is the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). This easy-to-grow houseplant is known for its attractive, arching leaves and ability to thrive in various light conditions. Spider plants are not only safe for humans and pets but are also effective at removing indoor air pollutants, such as formaldehyde and benzene.

Consider adding a snake plant (Sansevieria) to your indoor garden as well. Snake plants have tall, upright leaves that display interesting patterns and can adapt to a wide range of light conditions. They are also one of the best air-purifying plants available, making them a healthy choice for any indoor space.

Finally, the Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is another non-toxic houseplant alternative. This attractive fern thrives in humid conditions and can be hung or placed on a shelf to create a lush, green display. It is not only safe for humans and pets but can also help increase indoor humidity levels, which can be beneficial during the dry winter months.

With these non-toxic houseplant options, you can still enjoy the benefits of indoor plants without compromising the safety of your home environment.

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