Calla lily

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Definition

This article describes poisoning caused by eating parts of a calla lily plant.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Poisonous ingredients include:

Note: The roots are the most dangerous part of the plant.

Where Found

Ingredients can be found in:

  • Calla lily genus Zantedeschia

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Burning in mouth and throat
  • Swelling of mouth and tongue
  • Redness, swelling, pain, and burning of the eyes, and possible corneal damage
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth. If the person's eyes or skin are irritated, rinse them well with water.

Give the person milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. DO NOT give milk if the person is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strength, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does not need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Bring the plant with you to the hospital, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive fluids through a vein (IV) and breathing support.

Outlook (Prognosis)

If contact with the person's mouth is not severe, symptoms usually resolve within a few days. For people who do have severe contact with the plant, a longer recovery time may be necessary.

DO NOT touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.

References

Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 64.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 11/4/2015
  • Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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