Is the ZZ plant poisonous is a question to worry regarding humans and pets. Although Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a good choice for forgetful plant owners, it is toxic to humans and pets.

Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous

The plant has attractive dark green leaves that thrive with less care and maintenance, but you must not ingest it. Get comfortable while this article helps you understand ZZ plant toxicity and safety measures. 

Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous? What Does It Cause?

Yes, ZZ plant is a toxic plant, it would cause ranging because it can start from eye irritation, and progress to different levels of stomach aches, and lastly, if the sap ingested was a big quantity, the consequence will be fatal and it would have deadly results.

The plant is considered toxic because it produces a poisonous substance called calcium oxalate. This compound has tiny sharp crystals with jagged edges that irritate the skin and soft tissues.

Every part of the ZZ plant is poisonous. The leaves, stem, rhizoids, and roots contain the toxic sap, calcium oxalate, that causes skin swelling and stomach upsets on ingestion. These symptoms also affect your pets, including cats and dogs.

You can comfortably share a home with ZZ plants but must practice ZZ plant safety.  Although ingesting any part of the ZZ plant can harm small children and pets, touching the plant causes minor issues. Protect yourself from skin irritations and rashes by wearing gloves. To be safer, you should also wash your hands immediately after touching the plant.

– Eye Irritation

ZZ plant poisoning happens when you expose your skin and eyes to the sap or ingest the plant leaves, rhizomes, and stems. The fluid could come into contact with your skin when repotting the plant or planting a new one. The sharp calcium oxalate crystals cause an itchy, red and painful rash.

Eye Irritation

ZZ plant exposure to the eyes happens when you rub the eyes with contaminated hands. This introduces calcium oxalate to the sensitive tissues. The sharp crystals of the toxic substance cause irritation in the eyes, and you will experience itching, redness, and watery eyes.

– Stomach Ache

Besides touching and exposing this plant’s sap to your eyes, ingesting its parts can be dangerous. First, chewing any portion of this plant introduces calcium oxalate to the mouth, and the sharp crystals cut and tear the soft tissues of the tongue, gums, and throat, because the poison in it will accelerate its strength, and spread all over. 

When the sap reaches to the stomach, it causes stomach upset, pain and swelling, now this would differ as the quantity would become larger. These can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The hurt throat makes swallowing difficult, which can lead to dehydration. If you experience pain in the throat, visit a doctor for a prescription. Ensure you also take a lot of water to stay hydrated.

– Skin Irritation

All parts of the ZZ plant are poisonous to touch or eat. Touching the plant can cause skin irritation, reddening, and skin rash. Touching your eyes with contaminated hands can make them watery and cause irritation.

Skin Irritation

Ingesting the ZZ plant causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets and humans. You must stay hydrated to avoid worse symptoms caused by dehydration. Contact the pet immediately if your pet ingests it because these tiny animals can quickly die from dehydration.

– Fatal Circumstances

The welcome plant is poisonous to humans, you would require large amounts for it to kill you, as you would have to ingest it in a very big quantity. In most cases, the worst the sap does is cause tummy upsets, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

However, the mucous membrane is more susceptible to calcium oxalate, so you should seek medical attention immediately after your child ingests any part of this plant. Also, keep them hydrated to avoid worse complications.

What Are Safety Measures When Handling Zanzibar Gem?

ZZ plant poisoning happens when the skin and eyes come into contact with the plant sap, but you can keep everyone from plant poisoning by practicing these safety measures. If you plant ZZ indoors, keep it away from your adventurous children to reduce the chances of ingestion, or warn them against touching it.

– Wear Protective Gloves

You can be extra cautious when potting or planting the ZZ plant. Wear gloves and cover the upper part of the arm. If you touch the plant with your bare hands when dividing it, ensure you thoroughly clean your hands with soap.

Wear Protective Gloves

This is because some roots could crack, pouring the toxic sap on your hands.

– Wear Protective Eyeglasses

Rubbing your eyes with dirty hands transfers the calcium oxalate, which results in itching and reddening of the eyes. You can also wear protective eyeglasses to prevent sap drops from entering your eyes when handling the plant.

– Place Repellents for Cats

Cats can be difficult to keep away from the plant, but you can do so by using strong-smelling substances. For example, sprinkle citrus juice from lemons or oranges on the plant pot. Citrus juice is a pungent smell to these pets, discouraging them from reaching for your plant. You can also use coffee beans to keep your cats away.

Place Repellents for Cats

Moreover, you can even move the pots on high shelves or get cute hanging baskets. But cats climb shelves, and they could follow the attractive ZZ up there, so ensure there is nothing near the tall shelf for them to jump on. If you hang the plant on the ceiling, use sturdy ropes or hooks to hold the baskets securely.

Alternatively, keep the plant in rooms that pets do not access, like the bedroom, and keep it locked. Ensure the plant is also on a higher shelf to prevent your little one from touching it.

Is ZZ Plant Poisonous to Dogs?

Yes, the ZZ plant causes similar symptoms to pets as it does to human beings. Calcium oxalate irritates your dog’s skin, mainly around the nose, mouth, and eyes. These would cause the pet to be out of its norm and become upset regarding health issues.

– Abdominal Issues

The toxic substance will also cause stomach upset to your pet, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Besides drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea, other symptoms to know your cat or dog came into contact with the ZZ plant is if they scratch their mouth or whine due to the irritation. This can cause tiny wounds around their nose and restlessness.

Abdominal Issues

You can keep your dog safe from this plant by hanging it in a higher place or placing the pot on a shelf. Dogs don’t climb surfaces, so they are easily protected from ZZ plants. You can also use strongly smelling coffee grounds or citrus peels around the plant to keep the dogs away.

– Severe Dehydration

If your pet ingests the ZZ plant and suffers diarrhea, keep them hydrated. Force them to eat to maintain the required energy. Sometimes symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting persist for a long, causing dehydration and other blood sugar problems.

– Kidney Damage

If the vomiting and diarrhea don’t stop, take your pet to the vet. The vet will administer IV treatment to restore lost fluids and keep the kidney functioning properly.

Kidney Damage

Note that diarrhea and vomiting in cats and dogs can cause kidney problems, which are irreversible and lead to death, so you must take the symptoms seriously.  

Are There Non-Toxic Types of the ZZ Plant?

Yes, there are non-toxic types, but the only difference between them is how they are less poisonous, and not completely toxin-free. Most plants belonging to the ZZ plant’s genus have a level of toxicity, although some can be less toxic.

If you find a ZZ variety with a lower toxicity level, use the safety measures to keep it away from your pets. Remember, the toxicity can be lower for humans but cause worse symptoms in cats and dogs.

Other plants in this family are pothos, philodendron and spathiphyllum. Although most people believe that the ZZ plant causes cancer, although it won’t but it will be deadly if only ingested in a very high amount.

Besides the ZZ plant’s toxicity, it is one of the most useful plants because it purifies the air. It absorbs toxins like xylene, carbon dioxide, and tolyne, leaving the room with clean air. ZZ also absorbs other harmful substances in the air, leaving humans to breathe clean air.


1. Does the ZZ Plant Cause Cancer?

One of the common misconceptions about the ZZ plant is that it is cancerous. However, although every part of this plant is toxic, it does not cause cancer. Wear gloves to protect your skin from irritation and rash from handling the plant.


Although homeowners highly prefer the ZZ plant over other green plants, it can be toxic to humans and pets. Every part of this plant contains calcium oxalate, which causes skin irritation when touched, and vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. From this article, you will find that;

  • Unlike most people’s belief, the ZZ plant does not cause cancer. But you must wear gloves to protect your hands from skin irritation.
  • You can prevent your pets from playing around the ZZ plant and ingesting it by using strongly smelling coffee grounds and citrus peels.
  • Besides the toxicity of the ZZ plant, it has other benefits like purifying air, reducing stress, and boosting mental health.
  • These plants toxicity levels cannot kill you but keep your kid and pets hydrated if they ingest the plant.
  • Ensure you wear gloves when propagating and potting the plant, and wash your hands every time you touch it.

Keeping toxic plants in the home can be terrifying, especially if you have small children and pets. However, ensure you adhere to the ZZ plant’s safety precautions. For example, you can place the plant’s pot on a higher shelf or hang it outdoors where it is hard to reach.


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