swiss cheese plant poisonous?

Discussion in 'Araceae' started by katsen, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. katsen

    katsen Active Member

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    i know that the swiss cheese plant is poisonous to cats and humans but i was wondering what parts, and if just touching/skin contact, the parts can cause problems, i know that eating it will do harm. any one know. thanks Anne
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The ripe fruit is edible. The foliage may be irritant if bruised so you get the sap on your skin, but touching the plant normally won't give you any problems.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Many people have these plants (Monstera deliciosa) and handle them without difficulty.
     
  4. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    There is far more hype than truth to the poison scare about Monstera deliciosa. I've personally eaten the fruit many times. I have at least a half dozen full grown plants in my own atrium. There is a natural product in the plant, and many other plants including spinach and many green vegetables, known as calcium oxalate crystals. If eaten in very large quantities it can be bad for you. But the key, according to many scientific articles, is it must be eaten in large quantities. The major problem is it causes kidney stones. Did you know vegetarians tend to have a higher rate of kidney stones than meat eaters? If you just look up many plants on the internet you'll read they contain a "deadly" poison. And that "poison" is supposedly calcium oxalate crystals. That is not substantiated by scientific literature.

    The calcium oxalate crystals can cause burning and swelling in the mouth and possibly the throat. Certainly dogs and cats and people shouldn't chew on the leaves. But one taste is enough to make you stop! It tastes bad. Real bad. I tried it as a part of an article I wrote some time ago. I felt like I had glass shards in my mouth for days. But I didn't die! That was several years ago. The sensation is something like chewing on glass needles. It is very uncomfortable.

    Less than 500 cases end up in a hospital each year (mostly due to frightened mothers) in the United States and the only ones known to be fatal were from chewing on a plant known as Dieffenbachia. Monstera deliciosa has never been documented to be fatal. Dieffenbachia Species have additional compounds which can paralyze the throat and is known to have killed at least one individual. That plant's common name is "Dumb Cane". It gets the name because it can cause the loss of the ability to talk and sometimes, to breathe.

    I've researched this with the help of a physician, a botanist, and information from several scientific texts. If you want to read the article you can find it here:

    http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Calcium oxalate crystals.html

    But don't believe everything you read on the internet. A lot ot the information on the net is just plain bad! That's why I list scientific references. But I would suggest you not try to chew on the leaves! Bad stuff.
     
  5. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    Wow! Steve, that's one amazing collection of plants you've got there. I should come and visit you sometime - I am not afraid of Swiss Cheese plants and eat taro every week.
     
  6. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I've eaten it too! Taro is very popular throughout the Caribbean and in Polynesia. There is far too much hype on the net about many aroid species. Probably not wise to let your pets chew on the leaves of some species, but they certainly aren't the "deadly poison" many websites would have you believe. Besides, one bite and that is usually enough to convince most pets to leave the plant alone.

    And if you'd like to come see our collection, you're welcome anytime. We have people come visit from all over the country, especially during the spring and summer.
     
  7. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Most people who try taro don't prepare it properly. I'm not sure how myself, but its not just "boil it once" and eat it.

    Ed
     
  8. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    There are many ways to cook aroids and end up with excellent flavor. The Polynesians often cook them in a pit in the ground over hot rocks. My friend Julius Boos is from Trinidad and has many recipes. We've been trying to convince him to produce a cook book! People in the West Indies, South America, and Polynesia eat aroids all the time. But if you look them up on the net you'll come back thinking they are all going to kill you! It just isn't so.

    The only one that is really bad is Dieffenbachia, or Dumb Cane. That one can cause the loss of use of your throat and possible death.

    And by the way, in the article I posted above, there is a link to a scientific site which explains that cooking has nothing to do with negating the effects of the calcium oxalate crystals! That too is simply a myth.
     

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