Madagascar Jewel Toxicity

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Karlalovesplants, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Karlalovesplants

    Karlalovesplants New Member

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    Hello! I just discovered that one of my plants is the Madagascar Jewel. I understand the milky sap can be an irritant, and that the plant itself would be toxic upon ingestion. My question is about the panic online about its carcinogen properties (or tumor-causing properties to be exact). I see in some scientific papers mention of esters and other things I have no clue about. Does just being in the same room or does basic contact with just the plant (not the sap) cause tumors? That seems a bit much. If I bathed in the sap day in, day out then maybe, but why are people panicking about having this plant in the home?
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The article at the bottom of the page at: Tumor promoters in commercial indoor-plant cultivars of the Euphorbiaceae. gives the reason for toxicity concern:
    The sap of Madagascar Jewel (Euphorbia leuconeura) is particularly high in the ingenol ester that is tumor-promoting, and injury to the leaves or stems produces a lot of sap. This article did say "Leaf-surface wiping tests of E. leuconeura failed to liberate ingenol derivatives." That confuses me because several articles mention ingenol as something that has derivatives that possess anti-cancer capabilities. I am not a scientist and am surely misunderstanding something here, but it does seem to answer your question about contact with just the plant. It doesn't say that the tumor concern is related to ingestion - it is skin contact they were testing. This is from the precis at the top of the article:
    The article did say that the common poinsettia houseplant did not contain the compounds at issue.

    I doubt there is anything stating specifically in terms meaningful to a plant owner how much of the latex contact it takes to induce tumors, but I would be very careful around this plant, and if I had children or pets, I would remove the plant.
     
  3. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sounds like it may be a concern with several Euphorbias. I guess it would depend on exposure and sensitivity. I would think most people know to be careful of it, but just reading the Web now, apparently many people do not know the sap is dangerous.

    This article states concern in African children, but says they often play with the sap as a gum or glue. BBC NEWS | Health | Plant sap 'causes cancer' Note the article was published in 2003 and there has been no major effort since to remove Euphorbias from nurseries.

    And a research paper from 1976. FDA Poisonous Plant Database

    Seems very unlikely that just being in the same room would be a problem. Using a weed-wacker on it would seem very inadvisable to me. Euphorbia tirucalli plants do grow outdoors in many areas and I can imagine that actually happening.
     
  4. Karlalovesplants

    Karlalovesplants New Member

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    So the scientists meant the milky sap is the concern and that just touching non-sap-covered parts of the plant is fine? Okay. I always wear gloves when transplanting my houseplants so I’m not concerned but I would like to be able to warn anyone who wants a seed/sprout about the precautions they should take if they happen to draw out the sap (it only excreted sap during transplanting once). I’ve seen Oleander for sale in greenhouses here so there are more dangerous plants out there haha. Thank you for the responses!
     
  5. Abby Mangangey

    Abby Mangangey New Member

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    I have a Madagascar Jewel which is now 6 years old. I just found out the name and that it is poisonous. I've been touching its sap unaware of the possible dangers. I wanted to know and read researches or testimonials regarding this but couldn't find one. I read the article mentioned above (Tumor promoters in commercial indoor-plant cultivars of the Euphorbiaceae.) and found out that another specie, the E. lomii, is also "poisonous". When I searched for this E. lomii, it was no other than the flowers I played as a child. We, mistakenly, called it "Jerusalem". We didn't know the real name and its possible dangers. I was inspired to leave a comment and share a childhood experience involving this E. lomii. The back of our elementary school back home (Philippines) was planted with these flowers and we used to pick the flowers and stick the stalk on our ears, cheeks, lips, eyebrows and let them hang. Of course the white sap ran over our hands, ears and the skin where we stick the flowers. I even remember licking the white sap to clean it away from my skin. Nobody knows the plant "is dangerous" and the children played with them summer after summer. I haven't heard any poisoning or health issues from my village regarding those kids who played with it. So, I have this Madagascar jewel which has a potential to activate EBV promoter (page 755, 2nd paragraph). I don't want to throw it away. I soaked 1 leaf and after 3 weeks, roots grew! Friends want the plant and they have the right to know of its "potential toxicity". Maybe they have their own stories to tell..
     

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