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is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae noted for their patterned leaves. Species in this genus are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance of shade. The common name, "dumb cane" refers to the poisoning effect of raphides. It is also known as the "Mother-in-law" plant. Dieffenbachia was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, the Director of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna, to honor his head gardener Joseph Dieffenbach (1796–1863).
Because temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) can kill them, the dieffenbachia must be grown indoors in temperate areas. The plant needs light, but filtered sunlight through a window is usually sufficient. The plant also needs moderately moist soil, which should be regularly fertilized with a proprietary houseplant fertilizer. Leaves will periodically roll up and fall off to make way for new leaves. Yellowing of the leaves is generally a sign of problematic conditions, such as a nutrient deficiency in the soil. The dieffenbachia responds well to hot temperatures and dry climates.
Numerous cultivars have been selected. The cultivars 'Camille' and 'Tropic Snow' have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
In Brazil the plant is said to ward against "negative energies" and "evil eye", etc. Because of this, it is commonly placed on a "seven lucky herbs" vase, along with common rue, Capsicum annuum, snake plant, basil, rosemary and Petiveria alliacea.
The cells of the Dieffenbachia plant contain needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. If a leaf is chewed, these crystals can cause a temporary burning sensation and erythema. In rare cases, edema of tissues exposed to the plant have been reported. Mastication and ingestion generally result in only mild symptoms. With both children and pets, contact with dieffenbachia (typically from chewing) can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms, including oral irritation, excessive drooling, and localized swelling. However, these effects are rarely life-threatening. In most cases, symptoms are mild, and can be successfully treated with analgesic agents, antihistamines, or medical charcoal. Gastric evacuation or lavage is "seldom" indicated. In patients with exposure to toxic plants, 70% are children younger than 5 years.
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