First ginger plant; is it poisonous?

lmcd(Z6 Ontario)February 19, 2005

Hi. I have a really basic question. I just bought was I was told was a ginger plant. (I bought it in the houseplant section of a nursery.) I have no idea what type it is, but it's probably a pretty common kind; it has long, oval leaves streaked with yellow, and it wasn't expensive.

So my questions is: is it poisonous? I've read that ginger is poisonous, but there seem to be totally different plants called ginger (I read about Asarum canadense and the Zingiberaceae family, for example), so maybe mine is safe. (I have plant-chewing cats, which is why I'm concerned.)


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lmcd(Z6 Ontario)

Now that I've looked at some pictures, I think that I have Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata.'

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 8:58PM
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TimChapman(Z8 Louisiana)

Alpinia zerumbet is not poisonous. For what you are concerned about (cats) there shouldn't be any concern over any ginger leaves (referring to the true gingers, zingiberaceae). Several gingers' leaves are used in cooking etc. as well other parts of the plants.

Tim Chapman

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 10:25AM
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bihai(zone 9)

If you ever grow Zingiber zerumbet (pinecone ginger) though, beware...the pinecone inflos have been shown to be toxic (to dogs, at least...)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 8:00PM
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TimChapman(Z8 Louisiana)

what is the reference for them being toxic? ie, is this printed somewhere, or from a thread etc? Just wondering if you meant truly toxic or if it just made someones dog vomit. In other words, grass isn't toxic yet i don't want my dog eating it cause enough WILL lead to an innocent, concerned look on his face right before he coughs it up on the carpet (always just one or two feet away from easy to clean tile floors, but i digress). Just curious as what you were referring to. I doubt it was a chemical toxin, but i can think of a few reasons why it would make a dog vomit.

Tim Chapman

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 10:58PM
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The pinecone inflos 'may' not be good for any animal but eating grass or greens are their way of cleansing out their stomach. They eat it to make themselves vomit. I have to bring grass into the house for my cat Tiger because he loves to eat it and cough it up. They even sell 4 inch pots at the pet stores now just for cats.
And Tim my cat Marco Polo's favorite place to cough up a hairball is on my nice clean bed covers. I haven't had a bedspread on my bed for longer than a few minutes (for company) in years. I put towels over my comforter just for that reason.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 12:54AM
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bihai(zone 9)

Our neighbor's dog died a few years ago after partially eating one of the inflos of a pinecone ginger. They were all out in the yard and they saw him gnawing on it. About an hour later he went into convulsions. They rushed him to the vet but it was too late. The vet told my friend that it is well known among the veterinary community, but not well known among the pet owning community, that the inflos contain alkaloids that are toxic to dogs. Many people don't realize that azaleas are toxic to dogs too, probably because dogs don't usually gnaw on the wood of azaleas.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 7:42AM
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Thanks, If I EVER get a pinecone ginger to bloom I'll be sure not to let the animals get it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 9:17AM
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bihai(zone 9)

It really concerned me at the time as we have always had pinecone gingers in our yards. We have a hound dog that loves to gnaw, he picks up sticks in the yard and chews them to bits even if we give him bones or rawhide chews, but fortunately, he only likes really dry wood, and has never gone for the gingers or any other living plants. Unlike another dog we used to have (who is no longer with us) who would eat all sorts of plants, mainly my cherry tomatoes.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 11:26AM
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