Poisonous Tropical Houseplants Information

There are many houseplants that, though beautiful and commonly kept indoors, pose a danger to yourself, your family and your pets due to their poisonous nature. With a variety of different toxins, tropical houseplants can cause severe digestive irritation, skin reactions and can be fatal if left untreated. Practice caution when designing your indoor space with tropical houseplants; identify toxic varieties and their associated symptoms. Always contact a doctor or hospital if you experience a reaction.


Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp.) is an extremely poisonous, tropical houseplant; most toxins are housed in the bulb, but do not consume any part of the plant. The toxins include alkaloid lycorine which may cause extreme irritation to the digestive tract. Amaryllis is a tropical flowering bulb that displays large blooms in pink, orange, salmon, white, pink and bi-color combinations above a green stalk. Thriving in sunny conditions, this houseplant requires well-drained potting soil and grows to a height of up to 46 inches, according to the Iowa State University Extension.

Flamingo Flower

Flamingo flower (Anthurium andraeanum) is a commonly used houseplant. All parts of the flamingo flower are poisonous, housing the toxins calcium oxalate and asparagine. These toxins cause internal poisoning if ingested, with the following resulting symptoms: the stomach, intestines, mouth and throat may become severely irritated. This tropical plant blooms all year long, displaying red, pink, white or rosy flower bracts (modified leaves that look like petals) with a yellow spadix and dark green foliage with leaves resembling hearts. This plant is grown in shaded conditions, thrives in moist, organic soil and grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension.


Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) is a poisonous, tropical houseplant. Toxins include calcium oxalate and asparagine; all parts of the plant are poisonous. These toxins may cause severe irritation to the following internal parts of the body if ingested: stomach, intestines, mouth and throat. Caladium displays bright-colored foliage with leaves in hues of pink, red, green and/or white in varying color patterns. Thriving in dappled shade, full sun fades their color; caladiums prefer moist, warm soil. This tropical plant reaches a height of 12 to 30 inches, according to the Clemson University Extension.


Philodendron (Philodendron spp.) contains the toxin calcium oxalate in its stems and leaves; calcium oxalate causes vomiting and diarrhea as well as internal burning in the mouth. Philodendrons display lily-like white flowers if kept under ideal conditions, as well as dark green to copper-hued leaves. Keep philodendrons in low, indirect light and well-drained soil; philodendrons thrive in soil composed of peat moss, loam and sand, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Philodendrons, depending on variety, can grow up to a height of 15 feet, but may also remain as a low-growing plant with a height of 1 to 3 feet.

Keywords: poisonous tropical houseplant, tropical houseplant toxins, houseplant poison irritation

About this Author

Tarah Damask's writing career, beginning in 2003, includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum, and articles for eHow. She has a love for words and is an avid observer. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.