Mother in Laws Tongue--Poisonous?

LauraKateOctober 2, 2004

How poisonous is mother in law's tongue when ingested? I'd like to give a plan to my sister in law who is having her first baby, but wonder how dangerous it is to children or pets. I think she would be okay with having it around, and would keep it out of reach of baby and puppy, but I'd like to give her good information about the plant in case of an accident.



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Michaela(z6+ TN)

Sansevieria plants are poisonous. "How poisonous" is a little like being a "little pregnant". Poinsettas are also poisonous. Many houseplants are poisonous, but to not allow one in the house because of a baby is going way overboard. Concentrate on it being the good luck plant that also purifes the air! :-)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 7:56PM
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weedwoman(z6 NJ)

From 'Baby Safe Houseplants and Cut Flowers' by John I. Alber and Delores M. Alber, Genus Books, 1990:

"Entire plant is mildly toxic... This plant is sometimes reported as non-toxic, based probably on its use as a medicinal plant by herbalists in some parts of the world. It has been used as a remedy for hemorrhoids and intestinal parasites, for instance. Studies of Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii" and S. thyrsiflora were conducted during the 1970s. In those studies, plant material was administered to rats and mice by various means. While the doses administered were high - ten percent of body weight - the investigators found that significant numbers of the rats and mice died. Other investigators report finding saponins in Sansevieria, and it seems likely that in extremely high doses these could cause the deaths reported in the studies. Most of the human ingestions of this plant that have been reported have not resulted in any symptoms. Thus, it appears likely that the plant is generally harmless in low doses. Ingestions of large amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, and other distress in the digestive tract, probably as a result of saponins."
"Recommendations: Instruct children never to eat this or any nonfood plant. While it is unlikely a child would eat quantities of Sansevieria equivalent to doses used in testing, test results must still be taken as some indication of toxicity. This plant therfore should be kept out of the reach of small children."

(FWIW, 10% of my body weight is 14 pounds, and if you force-fed me 14 pounds of food I'd probably die too. The things we do to animals...)


    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 2:49AM
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Very helpful information, thanks so much. I will encourage the new Mom not to force feed baby high doses of the plant. :) And to keep it out of reach.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 10:23AM
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mairzy_dotes(zone 10)

That was a great article and answered the question perfectly. I tried looking it up on my poisonious plant lists and found it listed on both non-toxic AND toxic lists, so was unsure how to answer it. Thanks for looking that up WW.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 11:27AM
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weedwoman(z6 NJ)

That 'Baby Safe Houseplants' book is a great resource. It's a paperback and not that expensive, and it has a lot of really good information in it. I'm sure it's available at Amazon, if you can't find it locally.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2004 at 1:37AM
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Sansevierias are a food source and medicine in some 3rd world countries, and they are eaten by animals regularly as a food source wherever they grow.

I doubt if 'toxic' is a correct word for this plant, but I
don't think I'd want my kids chewing on a leaf in any case.
I'll refrain from dicing it in my salad also.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 1:22AM
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Thanks for the info. My 18 month old grandbaby just fed the dog and herself a bit of it as a snack and I was a bit worried. The plant (and all others) are back outside now that I know she has a taste for nick-nacks.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 2:46PM
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I wonder if your are talking about the liquid from the rhizomes. There is not much liquid or pulp in the leaves. They don't even give a rash.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:26AM
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The curator actually had us taste the juice, but not the fiber even the elephants spit that out. I need to ask around again to be very sure. it was reported to be thinly sliced up put asused the place of cucumbers in salads, but but believe everything you hear. Norma

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:10PM
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Call the poison center, if your concerned. The fibers can do more damage then the roots. There is far too much mis-information given out on all forums. If in doubt take the kid, dog, cat to the emergency hospital.

dont wait for a response here it would be late if it were toxic. Our emergency hospital did not know what to do, when the kid next door got into Euphorbia, I took care of it and made her call the poisen center, and called the childs doctor, she told them what I was doing. I had told her months ago to get rid of the plant she did not believe me. Norma

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 2:36AM
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my puppy 8monthe old seems to like the mother in law tongue and just a one. is it poisonous to dogs ?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 1:40PM
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Plants are NOT toxic. In fact sanseveria is used medicinally in some places. The fact that slugs and snails eat the leaves to no end is surely a clue that these plants are not toxic.
There are some plants with very sharp tips and spine tips that pose more danger than consumption of leaves or roots.
BTW elephants do eat this as I have seen them relish these when ever they can sneak a few leaves with their trunks. I bet the spine tipped adaption is a way to deter these relished plants from being eaten. I have seen wild pigs eat them to the root and they don't appear to be sick from eating massive amounts of this.This was the common S. laurentii variegated forms.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 2:19PM
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