Poisonous Plant


Other Names: Elephant's Ear and 'Ape

Botanical Name (Family): Araceae

Type: Bulb

Uses of Alocasia

Food Uses: The underground stem (corm) is edible, and as with Taro, is only safe to eat after lengthy cooking, which breaks down the irritating crystals of calcium oxalate.

Uncooked, these crystals can injure internal human mouth and throat tissue. Not a favored food, 'Ape was eaten only in times of famine when other foods were scarce.

Medicinal Uses: The juice from freshly cut stems was used on the skin as an antidote after touching itchy or stinging plants such as Ko (Sugar Cane) and Nettle.

In the old days, the leaves of 'Ape and of Ti were used to wrap a fevered person for comfort, and because it was said that the bitter sap of 'Ape would frighten away evil or negative spirits.

Cool Facts

Toxicity in Alocasia

The poisonous alocasia has long, red stalks and is heart-shaped with green leaves. The veins on the alocasia are very distinct and white or yellowish. The flowers that the alocasia creates are very small clusters that are not very often seen. Every part of this plant is poisonous. The calcium oxalate crystals found in the plant have sharp edges that cause irritation on everything that they touch. If only small amounts are consumed or touched, then the level of toxicity is very mild, not serious. However, it can be lethal in large amounts and continuous consumption.

Symptoms: The alocasia is highly poisonous to dogs, cats, horses and humans and can cause death if consumed. If it touches the skin, the alocasia can cause skin irritation. After consuming the alocasia, intense burning occurs on the mouth and lips. Drooling, vomiting and a difficulty swallowing can occur. If the alocasia gets in the eyes, it can cause redness, pain, swelling and burning in the eyes. Death is caused by the swelling blocking the airways, though the swelling is usually not severe enough to cause this.