Pothos Toxicity: The Real Risks of These Poisonous Plants

Pothos, or its scientific name Epipremnum aureum, is a stunning evergreen flowering plant from the Arum family. Its native habitat is the tropical island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia, but it can be found in many other areas worldwide.

Features waxy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves with white, yellow, or cream speckles. Its beauty and resilience make it a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts. Pothos plants are also renowned for their ability to thrive in low light and purify the air.

But, a common concern new plant owners ask is about pothos toxicity. So, we’ll explain more about if Pothos is poisonous and what you should do.

First: Make Sure You Have a Pothos Plant

Due to their widespread popularity, pothos plants have accumulated several common names in different parts of the world. Names include:

  • Most common – Golden Pothos
  •  Epipremnum
  • Taro vine
  • Ceylon creeper
  • Ivy arum
  • Devil’s vine
  • Silvervine
  • Hunter’s robe
  • Money plant
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Solomon islands ivy

To make matters more complicated, there are also dozens of varieties of Pothos that go under various names. 

Is the Pothos Poisonous or Toxic?

The pothos plant is a much-beloved choice for indoor decor, with its flowing vines and glossy leaves. However, according to the ASPCA, this plant also harbors a potentially dangerous secret – tiny crystals composed of calcium oxalate. 

These insoluble calcium oxalate crystals are sharp enough to break through the skin, leading to discomfort for those who come into contact with them. Moreover, if ingested, they can also damage the mouth and digestive system. 

Therefore, keeping the Epipremnum aureum plant away from curious children and pets is essential, as it’s notorious for its poisonous properties.

Is the Pothos Plant Toxic To Humans?

Although beautiful, this plant can be harmful if touched or consumed. This is because (as we mentioned above) all parts of the plant (leaves and stem) contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation if they come in contact with the skin or mouth. However, in rare cases, consuming a large amount of the pothos plant can cause swelling in the upper airway and lead to breathing difficulties. 

It’s important to note that while the pothos plant is toxic, it’s not typically fatal to humans. However, keep it out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidents. 

Is Pothos Toxic To Cats?

pothos houseplant and cat

Good news for cat owners – simply walking past, smelling, or rubbing against the pothos plant won’t harm your furry friend! However, it could spell trouble if your curious kitty nibbles on any part of the plant. 

In fact, a dangerous reaction could occur within a few minutes of ingestion, so it’s crucial to act fast and take your cat to the vet immediately.

If pothos poisoning goes untreated, it could quickly lead to death in just a few days. So while it may take several days for your vet to nurse your cat back to health, keeping your feline friend out of harm’s way is worth the effort.

Looks for signs of Pothos plant toxic side effects such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling (it’s a toxic substance that causes intense burning in the cat’s mouth)
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite

If your cat has munched on some Golden pothos and starts showing symptoms, don’t panic! The severity of their symptoms will dictate the necessary treatment. 

In most cases, IV fluid therapy is the go-to treatment, as it flushes any remaining crystals out of your cat’s body, preventing further kidney damage. But, with prompt treatment and proper care, your cat should return to their curious and mischievous self in no time.

Read More: Complete Article on “Is Pothos Toxic to Cats?

Is Golden Pothos Toxic To Dogs?

dog with toxic pothos plant

Yes. Pothos plants are toxic to dogs. But wait to throw out those houseplants.

If your dog has helped itself to a snack from your pothos plant, you might notice some worrisome symptoms like vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing. Your dog may also lose its appetite and seem down in the dumps.

Fortunately, it’s improbable that a few nibbles on pothos leaves will be fatal to your puppy. However, the calcium oxalate crystals in the plant can undoubtedly cause discomfort in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, hopefully discouraging any future plant-based munching. 

So, the bottom line is this: Pothos contains natural toxins that can irritate your dog’s mouth and cause tummy troubles. To avoid risk, it’s best to keep your Pothos plant out of your pet’s reach and opt for safer treats instead.

Read More: Complete Article on “Are Pothos Toxic to Dogs?

Is Pothos Poisonous To Reptiles?

turtle in aquarium with plant

If you’re a proud owner of a pet reptile, you don’t have to worry about the occasional nibble on your pothos plant. A small bite here and there won’t do any harm. 

But be aware that if your pet reptile eats a large amount of the plant, it may experience a toxic reaction. Luckily, this reaction is usually not fatal.

However, the real problem occurs when your reptile develops a taste for Pothos and starts eating it regularly. 

Consuming Pothos regularly can lead to serious long-term health problems for your pet. Therefore, to keep your pet healthy and happy, keeping your pothos plant out of its reach and away from other pets who might fancy a bite is best.

Read more: Is Pothos Safe for Reptiles?

Is Pothos Safe For Birds?

bird and a pothos plant

As beautiful as pothos plants may be, they’re unsafe to keep around our feathered friends. All Epipremnum and Scindapsus plants contain harmful calcium oxalate crystals that can make your pet bird sick if ingested. While they may not be fatal, these crystals can cause serious health issues.

To keep your bird safe and healthy, it’s best to avoid having pothos plants in the same room as your feathered friend. Instead, opt for bird-friendly plants that won’t cause any harm.

Read more: Is Pothos Safe for Birds?

Symptoms Of Pothos Poison

How do you tell if the pothos plant has poisoned you or your furry friend? 

If you come into contact with the sap on the plant, you may experience skin and eye irritation from the calcium oxalate crystals. But, the real danger lies in ingesting the plant, which can cause severe oral irritation, swelling, stomach pain, and a burning sensation in the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. 

In extreme cases, difficulty breathing and swallowing can occur.

For pets, excessive drooling and vomiting are the most common signs of pothos plant poisoning. 

Additional symptoms may include oral pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, and increased mouth-pawing behavior. Seizures and coma can occur in severe cases of poisoning, which can also result in renal or hepatic failure in pets such as dogs and cats.

If you suspect your pet has consumed the poisonous plant, contact animal poison control immediately. Remember, prevention is the best course of action. Keep the pothos plant out of reach of curious pets and children to avoid potential harm.

How To Prevent Pothos Toxicity

Wearing protective gloves while handling them is a good idea to keep yourself safe from harmful calcium oxalate crystals in toxic plants. 

Additionally, be careful not to touch your face, especially your eyes ¹, while dealing with these plants. Finally, if you have children or pets, keeping the Epipremnum aureum pothos plant out of their reach, indoors or outdoors, is best. 

Growing indoor plants in hanging baskets is a great way to do this. But remember, Devil’s Ivy does not need direct sun and prefers bright indirect light.

Although skin irritation from contact with these plants usually goes away on its own, it’s essential to call a doctor if it worsens. And if by chance you or someone else accidentally ingests the plant, it’s crucial to call a poison control center immediately.

Faq

Can you eat pothos plant?

No, as outlined in this article, you should not eat a pothos plant. The crystals inside are harmful and could lead to severe illness or death.

Is pothos plant poisonous to babies?

Babies should not eat pothos plants as they are known to be toxic. While they are not usually known to be fatal in humans, the reactions could be more severe in babies. Contact your medical doctor immediately for advice.

References

1: Cohen, A. K., Theotoka, D., & Galor, A. (n.d.). Epipremnum aureum Keratopathy: Case Report and Review of the Literature. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.1097/ICL.0000000000000675

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.