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The Christmas cactus, also known botanically as Schlumbergera, has a peculiar and therefore particularly decorative appearance. However, not only the sharp thorns can be dangerous on him. Plant sap, flowers and leaves also pose a risk. This is particularly true for living beings with a low body weight, such as pets and children. If you still don't want to do without the Christmas cactus, you should therefore take appropriate precautionary measures.


Caution: slightly toxic!

The Schlumbergera flowers in winter and is therefore often used as a colorful room decoration in the cold season. However, all parts of the plant are slightly poisonous. For this reason, appropriate caution should be exercised in care and culture.
The following points should be considered and observed:

1. Skin protection

If the plant is cut or if parts are broken off, plant sap escapes. This can cause skin irritation and a rash. Direct skin contact should therefore be avoided. Latex or rubber gloves should therefore be worn when cutting or handling broken parts. If plant sap does get on the skin, it must be rinsed off immediately and thoroughly with plenty of running water.

2. Flowers and Leaves

Flowers wither and fall off, a leaf or part of a leaf can also be shed. In order to avoid direct contact with it and to reduce the risk of escaping plant sap, the parts should also be kept with protection. Pulp, gloves or hand broom and dust pan are ideal for this. Care should also be taken to ensure that fallen plant parts are removed quickly.

3. Location

A Christmas cactus in the entrance area or in a narrow place is extremely unfavorable. Because here it happens quickly that the plant is touched and something breaks off the plant. In addition, the Schlumbergera should be out of the reach of children and animals. An elevated location makes sense. Falling flowers and leaves should also not be able to be picked up.

Danger for animals and children

Since the Christmas cactus is "only" slightly poisonous, it does not pose a major threat to adults. On the one hand, this is due to the amount of poison or its strength and the relation to body weight. On the other hand, it is also due to the fact that adults rarely put fallen leaves or flowers in their mouths, break off unprotected parts of plants or even bite into leaves.
However, this can happen with small children or animals. The colorful flowers entice you to grab them and can look like sweets to small children. When playing and romping, the thick, fleshy leaves can quickly break off.

In addition, cats, dogs, but also birds, guinea pigs and rabbits can have a taste. To ensure safety, however, the Christmas cactus should either not be in the household at all or should be positioned out of the reach of animals and children.

symptoms of poisoning

Symptoms of Christmas cactus poisoning depend on the type of contact and the amount ingested. Direct skin contact with plant sap can cause the following symptoms, among others:

  • rash
  • Burn
  • itching
  • swelling
  • redness

If, on the other hand, the poison of the plant is ingested orally, the following symptoms can be expected:

  • Nausea to the point of vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • Stomach pain and abdominal cramps
  • dizziness
  • circulatory problems
  • unsteady gait / staggering
  • Soreness, irritation or redness on the oral mucosa

However, a lethal dose is unlikely. However, it cannot be completely ruled out either. This is especially true for very small animals and young children.

First aid

If, despite all caution, you should ingest or come into contact with parts of the Christmas cactus, the following first aid measures should be taken in severe cases:

  • Call a poison control center, ambulance, or veterinarian
  • Enter the weight of the child or animal
  • Give plant names or describe the plant as well as possible
  • State type of contact and amount of plant ingested
  • Give water to drink unless otherwise directed by poison control center
  • If possible, drive directly to the doctor or vet or wait until the emergency doctors arrive. Don't panic though.

It is also worth having the phone number for the responsible poison control center ready. Other emergency numbers and names of the plants can also lead to faster and more targeted treatment.

notice: Please note that this article is by no means a substitute for a doctor's visit. There is no guarantee of the correctness of medical statements.
Detailed information on first aid in the event of poisoning and important information on the poison control centers can be found here.

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