Dieffenbachia

DieffenbachiaDieffenbachia — Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical plants in the Family Araceae noted for their patterned leaves. Members of this genus are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance to shade. The Dieffenbachia is often referred to as the “King of Plants”.

The cells of the Dieffenbachia plant contain needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. If a leaf is chewed, these crystals cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat; swelling can occur along with a temporary inability to speak, and from this effect the plants are commonly called dumb cane (other names include Galatea and Leopard Lily). Chewing could result in death if swelling of the throat blocks the airway. Slaves were supposedly sometimes punished by having dieffenbachia put into their mouths. Young children (at the age where they regularly put things into their mouths) are at risk of suffocation and death if they eat or chew on Dieffenbachia leaves. These occurrences are exceptionally rare. Some cats eat houseplants and flowers; they are similarly at risk.

Dieffenbachia plants can grow outdoors in tropical climates, but specimens kept as houseplants must be kept indoors during most of the year outside the tropics. Temperatures below about 5¢ªC (40¢ªF) can kill the plant. The plant needs light but filtered sunlight through a window is usually sufficient. When the plant is brought home from the nursery, it will likely need repotting. The plant needs moderately moist soil. The soil should be fertilized with either regular liquid fertilizing or fertilizer pellets or spikes. Leaves will periodically roll up and fall off to make way for new leaves. Yellowing of the leaves is generally a sign of problematic conditions, such as a nutrient deficiency in the soil.They also respond well to hot and dry temperatures.

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