Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)

Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) is a genus of about 30 species of erect, tufted, evergreen perennials in the family Araceae, native to West Indies, and the tropical forests in North and South America. It is also known as Leopard lily.

Dumb canes are grown for their variegated foliage, and most cultivars are derived from Dieffenbachia seguine. The genus name is to honor Johann Karl Ernst Dieffenbach (27 Jan 1811 - 10 Jan 1855), a German physician, geologist and naturalist. The common name Dumb cane is given in reference to the poisonous nature of the sap which, if chewed or ingested, can cause intense pain and swelling of the tongue.

Dumb cane has a central stem and large leaves,15-40 cm long, that are oval-oblong, gradually tapering towards the apex, and spotted, striped or speckled with white or yellow. The plant do not set seed, and the inconspicuous cream flowers are sterile.

Dumb cane is a very popular, hardy, shade-loving plant, suitable for both indoor and outdoor. It grows well in partial shade, fertile, moist and well-drained soil. All parts of the plant is poisonous; contact with the sap may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. It is important to keep small children and pets away from the plant due to the poisonous sap.

Propagate in spring or summer by stem cuttings or pieces of leafless stem placed horizontally in soil mix. Scale insects and spider mite are pests that are troublesome.

Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)
Author: Forest & Kim Starr (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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