Is The ZZ Plant Poisonous To People, Children, Cats and Dogs?

People ask all the time – is the ZZ plant poisonous? Here’s the details!

ZZ plants known by the botanical name of Zamioculcas Zamiifolia have become a very popular houseplant over the last few years.

Leaves of the popular ZZ plant - people ask if the plant is poisonousPin

In 1996, Dutch nurseries began propagating the ZZ plant and distributing plants on a worldwide scale.

Its toughness has made this native to Kenya and northeastern South Africa one of the best indoor plants in the last 25 years.

ZZ plants go by several common names:



  • Zee Zee plant
  • Zanzibar gem
  • Steel plant
  • Zizi plant
  • Aroid palm
  • “Eternity plant”

Zamioculcas fits almost every qualification of a tough plant:

  • Handles low light conditions well
  • Thrives in indirect light
  • Easy to grow with minimal plant care needs (like a well-draining potting soil)
  • Low water requirements (can go months without water)
  • Tough under indoor conditions with lower light levels
  • Drought tolerant
  • Handles neglect well
  • Needs little grooming other than keeping dark green leaves clean and dusted.
Healthy potted plant with lush green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @houseplantsofno29

It is perfect for forgetful plant owners. The ZZ plant belongs to the Araceae family and is known for many great houseplants (philodendron, pothos, spathiphyllum, Alocasia – African masks) but also for its list of many toxic and poisonous plants.

ZZ plants have a reputation for being poisonous, strictly by its family association.

As a member of the Araceae family, many people ask the question about the zz plant disadvantages:

Is Zanzibar Gem Poisonous or Toxic To People, Dogs, Cats, or Horses?

According to sources such as Richard Jauron from the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University.

The ZZ plant is regarded as poisonous to humans and pets if ingested.” [source]

The University of Florida shares:

It’s important to note that all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested.” [source]

The Araceae family gets a bad name for being poisonous as the plants contain calcium oxalate.

Our bodies contain calcium oxalate. In fact, kidney stones are the “friendly name” for calcium oxalate stones, which no one likes!

Man smiling with large potted plant.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plantgazing

So, if you’re asking, are zz plants toxic to dogs? Or is the zamioculcas zamiifolia toxic to cats? And most importantly, Is ZZ plant toxic to humans?

The answer is YES!

ZZ plants are considered to be “toxic” to humans and animals. They produce a compound that irritates when exposed to the skin or ingested. 

However, the zz plant toxicity is not severe and does not generally cause lasting damage or death.

What Parts Of The Plant Are Poisonous or Toxic?

All Parts – Everything!

Handling, ingesting, and coming in contact with all plant parts is not recommended.

This includes the seeds, glossy dark green foliage, stems, roots, and plant’s sap, etc.

What Are The Symptoms Of Zamioculcas Zamiifolia Poisoning?

The word “poisonous” or ‘toxic” could be a little strong or exaggerated.

When the “toxic plant” juices come in contact with the skin and mucous membranes or are ingested, burning, pain, or swelling may occur.

Although you cannot see them, the calcium oxalate crystals contain sharp edges. These sharp edges are what cause irritation or burning.

For this reason, it is best for adults, children, and pets to avoid contact with Zamioculcas.

Now, the question is, what happens if you touch a zz plant?

Man smiling, holding a potted plant.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @jiffyplants

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explains zz plant poison symptoms well.

“When any part of these plants is chewed and swallowed, the crystals stab the sensitive tissues of the tongue, gums, and throat, creating the sensation of biting into ground glass. Pain, difficulty swallowing, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and temporary hoarseness may occur.

Poisoning from swallowing an oxalate-containing plant is rare because intense mouth pain usually prevents children from eating a significant quantity of the plant.

When the plant’s juices come in contact with the skin, burning, pain, and swelling may occur. Lather the exposed area repeatedly with soap and rinse with warm running water to ease the irritation.” [source]

How To Protect Yourself While Handling The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia Plant

To protect yourself from potential skin irritation from zamioculcas poisonous, wear gloves when potting plants, starting leaf cuttings, tubers, or planting potato-like rhizomes.

Wear gloves when repotting or dividing the succulent tubers (which store water) of the ZZ plant.

Healthy potted plant with shiny leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @infinite_green42

Wash your arms and hands after handling the plant, especially if juices or sap touch your exposed skin.

As mentioned above, the Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a great houseplant and indoor air purifier. There is no reason not to add a new plant to your home to enjoy.

NOTE: Keep the plant out of direct sunlight and do not avoid overwatering.

Learn about ZZ –> Why Does My ZZ Plant Have Yellow Leaves?

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