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 control 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 ingredients include:
- Oxalic acid
- Asparagine, a protein found in this plant
Note: The roots are the most dangerous part of the plant.
Ingredients can be found in:
- Calla lily genus Zantedeschia
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.
Symptoms may include:
- Blisters in the mouth
- Burning in mouth and throat
- Hoarse voice
- Increased saliva production
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain on swallowing
- Redness, swelling, pain, and burning of the eyes, and possible corneal damage
- Swelling of mouth and tongue
Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.
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
Your local poison control 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 national hotline 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. Damage to the cornea will require additional treatment, possibly from an eye specialist.
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.
In rare cases, swelling is severe enough to block the airways.
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.
Auerbach PS. Wild plant and mushroom poisoning. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:374-404.
Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 65.
Last reviewed on: 9/28/2019
Reviewed by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.