Two or three years ago I received an email telling people to get rid of a certain plant, as it was so poisonous it could kill a child "in less than a minute and an adult in 15 minutes". It added that if the plant is touched, "One should never touch one's eyes; it can cause partial or permanent blindness." The plant was not named, but the message showed a picture of a dieffenbachia.
CARE AND CAUTION: Plumeria, allamanda and poinsettia all yield a milky sap which can cause skin irritation if not handled with care.
That warning is back in circulation, this time on Facebook, and after reading it I am sure many people who do not know much about plants will be discarding this beautiful plant from their gardens rather than compromising their safety or that of their children and pets. It is true that the dieffenbachia has been given the common name "dumb cane" because its leaves and stems contain calcium oxalate crystals which, when ingested, can cause temporary paralysis of the tongue, making speech intensely difficult for some time. There is no record, however, of anyone being killed or blinded just by touching it _ so the warning being circulated on social media is clearly a hoax.
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