|Dieffenbachia (dumb cane)|
Dieffenbachia // is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae. It is native to the New World Tropics from Mexico and the West Indies south to Argentina. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental, especially as a house plant, and has become naturalized on a few tropical islands.
Dieffenbachia is a perennial herbaceous plant with straight stem, simple and alternate leaves containing white spots and flecks, making it attractive as indoor foliage. Species in this genus are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance of shade. The common name, "Dumb Canes" refers to the poisoning effect of raphides, which can cause temporary inability to speak; for this reason it is also known as the mother-in-law plant. Dieffenbachia was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, director of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna to honor his head gardener Joseph Dieffenbach (1796–1863).
With a minimum temperature of 5 °C (41 °F), dieffenbachia must be grown indoors in temperate areas. They need light, but filtered sunlight through a window is usually sufficient. They also need moderately moist soil, which should be regularly fertilized with a proprietary houseplant fertilizer. 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. Dieffenbachia respond well to hot temperatures and dry climates.
How to grow
The Dieffenbachia prefers medium sunlight, moderately dry soil and average home temperatures of 62-80 F (17-27 C) Water about twice a week.
- Dieffenbachia aglaonematifolia Engl. - Brazil, Paraguay; Corrientes + Misiones Provinces of Argentina
- Dieffenbachia antioquensis Linden ex Rafarin - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia aurantiaca Engl - Costa Rica, Panama
- Dieffenbachia beachiana Croat & Grayum - Costa Rica, Panama
- Dieffenbachia bowmannii Carrière - Colombia, northwestern Brazil
- Dieffenbachia brittonii Engl. - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia burgeri Croat & Grayum - Costa Rica
- Dieffenbachia cannifolia Engl. - Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
- Dieffenbachia concinna Croat & Grayum - Costa Rica, Nicaragua
- Dieffenbachia copensis Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia cordata Engl. - Peru
- Dieffenbachia costata Klotzsch ex Schott - Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
- Dieffenbachia crebripistillata Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia daguensis Engl. - Colombia, Ecuador
- Dieffenbachia davidsei Croat & Grayum - Costa Rica
- Dieffenbachia duidae (Steyerm.) G.S.Bunting - Venezuela, Guyana
- Dieffenbachia elegans A.M.E.Jonker & Jonker - Bolivia, northwestern Brazil, the Guianas
- Dieffenbachia enderi Engl. - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia fortunensis Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia fosteri Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia fournieri N.E.Br. - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia galdamesiae Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia gracilis Huber - Peru, northwestern Brazil
- Dieffenbachia grayumiana Croat - Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia
- Dieffenbachia hammelii Croat & Grayum - Costa Rica, Nicaragua
- Dieffenbachia herthae Diels - Ecuador
- Dieffenbachia horichii Croat & Grayum - Costa Rica
- Dieffenbachia humilis Poepp. - Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, northwestern Brazil, the Guianas
- Dieffenbachia imperialis Linden & André - Peru
- Dieffenbachia isthmia Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia killipii Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia lancifolia Linden & André - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia leopoldii W.Bull - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia longispatha Engl. & K.Krause - Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela
- Dieffenbachia lutheri Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia macrophylla Poepp. - Peru
- Dieffenbachia meleagris L.Linden & Rodigas - Ecuador
- Dieffenbachia nitidipetiolata Croat & Grayum - Panama
- Dieffenbachia obliqua Poepp. - Peru
- Dieffenbachia obscurinervia Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia oerstedii Schott - southern Mexico (Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Oaxaca, Chiapas), Central America (all 7 countries), Colombia
- Dieffenbachia olbia L.Linden & Rodigas - Peru
- Dieffenbachia paludicola N.E.Br. ex Gleason - northwestern Brazil, the Guianas, Venezuela
- Dieffenbachia panamensis Croat - Panama
- Dieffenbachia parlatorei Linden & André - Colombia, Venezuela
- Dieffenbachia parvifolia Engl. - northwestern Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
- Dieffenbachia pittieri Engl. & K.Krause - Panama
- Dieffenbachia seguine (Jacq.) Schott - West Indies, south to Brazil and Bolivia
- Dieffenbachia shuttleworthiana Regel - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia standleyi Croat - Honduras
- Dieffenbachia tonduzii Croat & Grayum - Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador
- Dieffenbachia weberbaueri Engl. - Peru
- Dieffenbachia weirii Berk. - Colombia
- Dieffenbachia wendlandii Schott - southern Mexico (Querétaro, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas) south to Panama
- Dieffenbachia williamsii Croat - Bolivia
- Dieffenbachia wurdackii Croat - Peru
In the Philippines, dumb cane plant is being studied; researchers have found that dumb cane plant contains active ingredients that cause antiangiogenic effect potential for the treatment of cancer. Antiangiogenesis is a process that inhibits the growth and development of new blood vessels in the body.
Antiangiogenesis controls the spread of tumour cells in the body by disabling the transport of nutrients toward the cancerous cells. Normally, tumour starts from a single cell and divides to make more cancer cells. The growth of malignant cells will depend on the availability of specific nutrients being transported by blood vessels.
Findings of the study claimed that dumb cane’s ability to prevent blood vessel growth and development can be possibly used in the formulation of anti-cancer drug to help prevent the spread of cancer cells in the human body.
In Brazil the plant is said to ward against "negative energies" and "evil eye", etc. Because of this, it is commonly placed on a "seven lucky herbs" vase, along with common rue, Capsicum annuum, snake plant, basil, rosemary and Petiveria alliacea.
The cells of the Dieffenbachia plant contain needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. If a leaf is chewed, these crystals can cause a temporary burning sensation and erythema. In rare cases, edema of tissues exposed to the plant has been reported. Mastication and ingestion generally result in only mild symptoms. With both children and pets, contact with dieffenbachia (typically from chewing) can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms, including intense numbing, oral irritation, excessive drooling, and localized swelling. However, these effects are rarely life-threatening. In most cases, symptoms are mild, and can be successfully treated with analgesic agents, antihistamines, or medical charcoal. Gastric evacuation or lavage is "seldom" indicated. In patients with exposure to toxic plants, 70% are children younger than 5 years.
In popular culture
In the Emergency! episode Messin' Around (January 14, 1974), a woman (Joan Shawlee) put the Dieffenbachia crystals in her husband's blood pressure medicine to shut him up, resulting in jokes about it being called the mother-in-law plant.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
- Croat, T. B. 2004. Revision of Dieffenbachia (Araceae) of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 91(4): 668–772
- Franco Guizetti. "Conheça o poder e a proteção das sete ervas" (in Portuguese). Retrieved Jan 19, 2012.
- Journal of Toxicology - Clinical Toxicology. 29 (4): 485–91. 1991. Missing or empty
- Boyle, Jennifer S; Holstege, Christopher P (December 9, 2008). "Toxicity, Plants - Caladium, Dieffenbachia, and Philodendron". emedicine. medscape.com. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- GN Lucas - Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 2008 - http://www.srilankacollegeofpaediatricians.com/pubs/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20CC%20de%20Silva%20Oration%20Plant%20poisonin.pdf
- Human & Experimental Toxicology, Vol. 15, No. 3, 245-249 (1996) doi:10.1177/096032719601500310
- Snajdauf, J.; Mixa, V.; Rygl, M.; Vyhnánek, M.; Morávek, J.; Kabelka, Z. (Dec 9, 2003). "Aortoesophageal fistula--an unusual complication of esophagitis caused by Dieffenbachia ingestion.". J Pediatr Surg. (Elsevier) 40 (6): e29–31. doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2005.03.036. PMID 15991162.
- Schott, H. W. and Kunst, W. Z. (1829). Für Liebhaber der Botanik.
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