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The single leaf (Spathiphyllum) hides a decorative, easy-care houseplant whose leaves shine in a rich green all year round. The genus of plants includes around 50 different species and is also known as "leaf flag". The Spathiphyllum floribundum, which in turn is available in many different cultivated forms, is kept as a houseplant. The plant blooms about twice a year, mostly in a radiant white, in a delicate yellow or in a noble green. But be careful - the single leaf belongs to the arum family, is poisonous and contains toxic oxalic acid in addition to pungent substances that irritate the mucous membranes.


The single sheet - Toxic to humans?

Like all arum plants, the leaf plume also contains toxic oxalic acid. Furthermore, the plant 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 contact via the skin.

oxalic acid

Basically, oxalic acid is a harmless plant substance, as long as it is not consumed in excess. Rhubarb, spinach, sorrel and other food plants also contain oxalic acid, but only in small amounts. Because of the diet, 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 - in excess, the acid binds calcium ions and thus has a calcium-withdrawing effect. Furthermore, oxalic acid has a corrosive effect 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 consumption is strongly discouraged. Consequently, an overdose of oxalic acid can lead to kidney problems and hyperoxaluria as the oxalates are excreted in the urine.

Tip: Oxalic acid poisoning can be counteracted with a magnesium solution, as this can compensate for the imbalance in minerals in the short term. Magnesium tablets can also help quickly, but if in doubt, you should always consult a doctor.

pungent substances

The poisonous effect of the single leaf cannot be attributed solely to the oxalic acid it contains. Accidental consumption of a leaf or any other part of the plant would not be enough to cause serious poisoning. The pungent 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. Eating the plant poses an even greater risk. If plant parts are eaten, the mucous membranes swell. The stomach and intestines can also be affected, because the pungent substances irritate all mucous membranes and can cause severe cramps.


What are the risks for children?

For children

The Spathiphyllum has no place in the children's room. Small children in particular could eat parts of the plant, but even purely external contact harbors certain risks. The following symptoms indicate a Spathiphyllum poisoning or reaction.

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

Quite a few children are sensitive to allergic to the pungent substances contained in the plant sap, which is why the plant should always be kept in an alternative place that is difficult for small children to access. Older children, on the other hand, are best protected by informing them about the toxicity of the plant beforehand. If it does come into contact with the skin, 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 eaten parts of the leaflet, you should consult a doctor as a precaution. In an emergency - Do not force the child to vomit, but give them plenty of water and contact a medical professional as soon as possible. A very high dose in particular can lead to serious problems, such as kidney damage or severe gastrointestinal bleeding.

Notice: You are not sure which plants are suitable for households with children and pets and do not want to take any risks? Valuable information on the leaf flag and many other poisonous plants can be found 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. Possible poisoning is indicated by symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and salivation. Avoid the leaflet if you have pets or place it in a location 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 contact a veterinarian immediately. Of course, this is particularly true if there are already visible abnormalities or complaints (e.g. apathy, unusual sounds, excessive salivation or inability to move).

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 an appropriate device so that contact can be ruled out.


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