The Mother-in-law’s tongue is an easy to care for evergreen perennial belonging to genus Sansevieria and family Asparagaceae.
One popular variety is the Sansevieria trifasciata. Sansevierias are recognized by a number of common names including:
- Snake Plant
- Bird’s Nest Snake Plant
- Saint George’s sword
- The Good-Luck Plant
- African Spear Plant
- Bowstring Hemp
It’s also called Viper’s Bowstring Hemp a reference to the fact the plant’s a source of fiber used to create bowstrings.
The botanical name for the most popular species is Sansevieria trifasciata.
This native of the tropical and sub-tropical lands of Africa, Madagascar, and Southern Asia is regarded as a highly tolerant and low-maintenance house plant.
The hardy Mother-in-law’s tongue plant grows from 8” inches to 5’ feet in height and withstands drought conditions and low light levels.
Its thick, long, stiff succulent leaves grow vertically and resemble an upright sword.
Sansevieria flowers are greenish-white, but some species may have reddish-lilac or rose-colored varieties.
The flowering shoots do not produce new leaves, but the rhizomes and stolons allow the plantlets to keep growing.
Owing to its dark green leaves with yellow, white, or gray stripes, this plant has an appearance making it stand out among common house plants such as the jade plant, peace lily, arrowhead, and weeping fig.
The Mother-in-law’s tongue plant is an ornamental indoor plant that adds to the greenery of the contemporary interiors of modern-day houses and as an added bonus it cleans the toxins from the air we breathe.
Are Snake Plants Poisonous Or Toxic Plant?
While it shows low or no toxicity in humans, snake plants are considered toxic houseplants for cats and dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The plant contains saponins as natural insecticides and fungicides.
These saponins are toxic for living beings and cause gastronomical reactions such as vomiting or diarrhea in humans and animals when ingested.
Moreover, the juices of the plant cause dermatitis, a form of skin rash or irritation.
Chewing or ingesting any part of these plants puts humans and animals at the risk of developing a severe allergic reaction which results in swelling of the tissues in the oral cavity and esophagus.
Consuming the plant in a considerable quantity can even turn out to be fatal for your furry friend.
What Parts Of The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Plant Are Poisonous or Toxic?
Saponin Toxins are found in the entire plant.
Hence, all parts of the snake plant should be avoided by pets and babies due to their toxic nature, including the stiff, upright leaves, little white fragrant flowers, the long stem, and the occasional berries.
What Are The Symptoms Of Poisoning?
With its bitter taste followed by a burning sensation in the mouth, the plant is inedible and most animals avoid it.
However, dogs and cats are curious pets and might be interested in sampling the plant.
Once the plant material and sap is ingested, small children and animals will start showing some common symptoms, such as:
- Swelling on the lips, tongue, and mouth
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
You may observe your pet drooling excessively as it increases salivation.
The foaming action of the poison adversely affects the gastrointestinal tract which results in rupture of blood cells and cell death.
How To Protect Pet Owners From The Mother In Law’s Tongue Plant?
Although it is safe to touch the snake plant as the toxins affect you only when ingested, the liquid from the leaves can cause skin irritation.
It’s advised to use gloves when repotting or handling the plant.
Since the Mother-in-law’s tongue is a popular indoor plant, it is recommended to keep it out of the reach of small children and pets, preferably on a high shelf.
In case your pet has taken a bite from the plant, remove the pieces of bitten leaves from their mouth and consult a veterinarian immediately.
In case of any poison-related emergency in animals, or if you’re unsure about the symptoms, it is advised to contact Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
If the child or pet has ingested large amounts of poisonous plant material, the treatment may include flushing the mouth, inducing vomiting or pumping the stomach to empty its contents.
Other plants considered toxic or poisonous include: