|Dieffenbachia (dumb cane)|
Dieffenbachia // is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae noted for their patterned leaves. Species in this genus are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance of shade. The common name, "dumb cane" refers to the poisoning effect of raphides. It is also known as the "Mother-in-law" plant. Dieffenbachia was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, the 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.
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 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.
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
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- Franco Guizetti. "Conheça o poder e a proteção das sete ervas" (in (Portuguese)). Retrieved Jan 19, 2012.
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- GN Lucas - Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 2008 - http://www.srilankacollegeofpaediatricians.com/pubs/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20CC%20de%20Silva%20Oration%20Plant%20poisonin.pdf
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- "Aortoesophageal fistula--an unusual complication of esophagitis caused by Dieffenbachia ingestion.". J Pediatr Surg. Elsevier. Updated: Dec 9, 2003.
- Schott, H. W. and Kunst, W. Z. (1829). Für Liebhaber der Botanik.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article Dieffenbachia.|