Is The Schefflera Plant Poisonous?

Schefflera arboricola is a popular houseplant and member of the family Araliaceae. The botanical name is Brassaia arboricola. It is also known as:

potted variegated schefflera
Potted dwarf umbrella tree Schefflera | PlantCareToday.com

Some types of Schefflera are mildly toxic while others are quite toxic. In this article, we explore and discuss Schefflera toxicity and share advice on preventing and dealing with this problem.

Different Species Of Schefflera Vary In Toxicity Levels

There are several different species of Schefflera. Among them are Schefflera Leucantha. In China and in Thailand, this plant is commonly used in traditional medicine.

When prepared as an infusion, it is said to be an effective treatment against:

  • The Common Cold
  • Allergy Symptoms
  • Asthma

Parts of the plant are also said to be useful in treating indigestion, circulatory problems and pain.

The leaves are often applied topically to treat a wide variety of maladies ranging from skin wounds and inflammation to bronchitis and blood clots in the brain.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information cite studies indicating that the Schefflera does have some powerful medicinal capabilities. [source]

The takeaway is that Schefflera does indeed have some strong and effective properties. It isn’t a plant to be taken lightly, and it should be handled with care.

All species contain substances known as calcium oxalate crystals. These may cause contact dermatitis to sensitive individuals who come in contact with the plants’ leaves. [source]

Some Schefflera species contain proteinase or proteolytic enzymes. These breakdown proteins into amino acids. This action stimulates the release of histamines and kinins causing inflammation.

This can also stimulate pain receptors and have a negative impact on blood pressure levels.

How Can You Avoid Schefflera Toxicity? 

Always place your Schefflera plant out of the reach of children and pets.

Whenever you need to handle your dwarf Schefflera plant, it’s smart to wear gloves and long sleeves.

Be sure to wash up completely after you finished pruning, repotting or otherwise dealing with your Schefflera.

Eating the Schefflera plant is never a good idea, but curious house pets (especially cats) may do just that.

Ingesting Schefflera can cause problems such as:

  • Numbness or burning sensation of the lips and mouth
  • Gastric distress
  • Vomiting 

If large amounts are ingested, symptoms may include dilated pupils and cardiac abnormalities. If left untreated, or even death may result.

Keep Kids, Pets and Livestock Away from Schefflera

These tropical plants are usually kept as houseplants and grow a maximum of six feet tall. In their natural, tropical setting, they are trees and grow to be fifty feet tall. 

Outside of tropical settings, children and household pets are most often stricken with Schefflera poisoning. Dogs and cats are especially sensitive to this plant. If ingested, it may cause:

  • Skin irritation
  • Irritation of the Lips, Mouth and Tongue
  • Swelling of the Throat
  • Gagging and Choking
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Dry Heaving
  • Depression
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may occur instantly, or it may take a couple of hours for them to manifest.

Your dog or cat may indicate discomfort vocally by whining or crying. You may notice that his or her voice sounds weak or hoarse. Your pet may also paw at its mouth.

Related Reading: Check out our article on Plants Poisonous to Cats.

Dog & Cat Diseases : Cat Poisoning Symptoms

If you suspect that your pet has eaten Schefflera plant, be sure to inform your veterinarian. If you notice any of these symptoms in your animal, you should contact your vet right away. 

Immediate first aid includes flushing the mouth and surrounding areas with fresh water. Eating dairy products such as cheese, milk or yogurt can help relieve the pain.

Benadryl, given orally and applied topically can help reduce swelling.

Check with your vet before doing any of these things.

Animal Poison Control Center – ASPCA (888) 426-4435

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