Is the one-leaf (spathiphyllum) toxic? Risks for children and pets

Behind the one-leaf (Spathiphyllum) hides a decorative, easy-care houseplant, the leaves of which shine in a lush green all year round. The plant genus comprises about 50 different species and is also known as the "leaf flag". Mainly the Spathiphyllum floribundum is kept as a houseplant, which in turn is available in many different cultivation forms. The plant blooms about twice a year, mostly in a brilliant white, in a delicate yellow or in a noble green. But be careful – the single leaf belongs to the family of the arum family, is poisonous and contains toxic oxalic acid in addition to irritants that irritate the mucous membrane.


The one-leaf – toxic to humans?

Like all arum family, the leaf flag contains toxic oxalic acid. The plant also contains certain pungent substances that can irritate both the skin and the mucous membranes. The plant can be toxic to both humans and animals. This applies not only to consumption, but also to skin contact.

oxalic acid

Basically, oxalic acid is a harmless plant substance, insofar as it is not consumed in excess. Rhubarb, spinach, sorrel and other food plants also contain oxalic acid, but only in small quantities. Nutritionally there is always some oxalic acid in the body. Only large amounts of oxalic acid and its soluble salts can lead to poisoning. The reason – the acid binds calcium ions in excess and thus has a calcium-removing effect. Furthermore, oxalic acid is corrosive and forms poorly soluble calcium oxalate. Calcium deprivation can lead to serious cardiovascular problems and kidney failure. The single leaf contains a relatively large amount of oxalic acid, which is why it is strongly advised not to consume it. An overdose of oxalic acid can lead to kidney problems and hyperoxaluria because the oxalates are excreted in the urine.

Tip: With oxalic acid poisoning can with a magnesium solution can be counteracted, since it can compensate for the imbalance of minerals in the short term. Magnesium tablets can also help quickly, but if in doubt, a doctor should always be consulted.

pungent compounds

The toxicity of the leaf cannot be attributed solely to the oxalic acid it contains. Accidental consumption of a leaf or other plant part would not be enough to cause serious poisoning. The spicy substances contained in the plant sap are more dangerous. If you come into external contact with the plant sap, this can lead to skin irritation and inflammation. Plant consumption poses an even greater risk. If parts of plants are eaten, the mucous membranes swell. Also stomach and intestine can be affected because the spicy substances irritate all mucous membranes and can cause severe cramps.


What are the risks for children??

For children

The Spathiphyllum has no business in the nursery. Small children in particular could eat parts of the plant, but even the purely external contact carries certain risks. The following symptoms speak for a spathiphyllum poisoning or reaction.

  • Burning, itching and inflammation (in the event of external skin contact with the plant sap)
  • kidney pain
  • Gastrointestinal complaints, cramps and diarrhea
  • swollen mucous membranes
  • strong salivation
  • Vomit

Quite a few children are sensitive to allergic to the spicy substances contained in the plant sap, which is why the plant is always in one alternative, should be kept in a place difficult to access for small children. The best way to protect older children is to inform them beforehand about the toxicity of the plant. If skin contact nevertheless occurs, this usually leads to burning and irritation. While this is painful, it usually does not result in serious damage.


If, on the other hand, your child has consumed parts of the leaf, you should consult a doctor as a precaution. In an emergency, do not force the child to vomit, but give him enough water and contact a doctor as soon as possible. In particular, a very high dose can lead to serious complaints, such as kidney damage or severe gastrointestinal bleeding.

Note: Are you unsure which plants are suitable for households with children and pets and do not want to take any risks? You can find valuable information about the leaf flag and many other poisonous plants at the information center against poisoning (

For animals

What are the risks for animals?

The popular ornamental plant has long been poisonous not only for humans, but also for many pets. Dogs, cats, rodents and birds are particularly sensitive. A possible poisoning is shown by symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and salivation. Do not use the sheet if you have pets or put it in a place where it is difficult to reach. A hanging basket hanging from the ceiling is ideal.


If you suspect that one of your pets has nibbled on the plant, you should immediately consult a veterinarian. Of course, this applies particularly if there are already visible abnormalities or symptoms (e.g. apathy, conspicuous sounds, excessive salivation or immobility).

Tip: In particular, free-flying birds, such as budgerigars, should be specifically protected. If you have birds, be sure to place the plant in another room or cover it with a suitable device so that contact can be excluded.


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Christina Cherry
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