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Aglaonema commutatum

Botanical Name

Aglaonema commutatum Schott [7]


No documentation



Vernacular Names

English Chinese Evergreen, Philippines Evergreen, Ribbon Evergreen
Philippines Damping-banal (Tagalog); Pamitagen (Mangyan); Pauangkilon (Cebu Bisaya) [2]


Aglaonema commutatum is a member of the Araceae family. It is an erect herbaceous plant with the stem reaching up to 150cm tall and 6.0cm thick. The petioles are between 6– 25cm long with petiolar sheaths membranous but occasionally scarious. The leaf-blades usually narrow, oblong-elliptic to lanceolate but occasionally ovate, elliptic or oblong, 13–30cm long and 4–10 cm wide. Base is often unequal, broadly acute, obtuse or subrounded, occasionally subcordate; apex often apiculate, acuminate to gradually acuminate, rarely shortly acuminate or broadly acute; variegation confluent in bars along the primary lateral veins, rarely in irregular scattered spots. The leaf texture is coriaceous. The peduncles solitary to 6 together, 7–15cm long. The spathe light green, sometimes white 3.5–9.0cm long and 2.8–4.0cm wide, decurrent for 0.4–1.2cm. The stipe is 0.4–1.1cm long, rarely surpassing the spather decurrency. The spandix thin cylindric 2–6cm long, usually more than 1cm short of spathe apex but occasionally equalling it. The pistillate portion 0.3–1.0cm long, pistils 10–18; staminate portion 1.5–4.0cm long, 0.4–0.6 cm thick. The fruits turning yellow, then bright red, ellipsoidal to obovoid, 1.6–2.5cm long and 0.4–1.7cm thick.[3]


Philippines and North-east Sulawesi [2]

Plant Use

Ornamental [2]

Toxic Parts

Juice of leaves and Stems [1]


Calcium oxalate crystals with or without unidentified toxic proteins. [1]

Risk Management

A. communtatum is a common ornamental plant use in home and office landscaping. The high content of calcium oxalate in this plant renders it amongst plant unsuitable for home landscape. Even though there has not been any reported case of death from poisoning as a result of ingestion of this plant, the possibility still exists because of the effects of calcium oxalate on mucus membrane. There is always the danger of the victim developing severe laryngeal oedema causing asphyxiation and subsequent respiratory failure.

Clinical Findings

The painful irritation of the lips and the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. In extreme cases swelling of the throat is sufficient to cause choking and inability to swallow. Usually after 4 days the swelling begins to lessen, eventually disappearing after 12 days. The pain may continue for about 8 days. In addition, contact dermatitis commonly occurs.

The calcium oxalate crystals are insoluble in water and are grouped together in bundles called raphides. When a part of the plant is bitten or chewed, sharp crystals quickly penetrate the lining of the mouth immediately. Because of the intense pain, plant material is rarely swallowed, but if it is it will cause inflammation and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Toxic proteins and other harmful materials may also be present in the plant tissue. The fatalities have been recorded from these toxins.[1]

Symptoms include the following[4]:

  • Keratoconjuctivitis and corneal abrasions after contact with plant material
  • Oedema, erythema, bullae, and inflammation of the mouth and oral mucosa after contact; oesophagitis
  • Slurred or unintelligible speech
  • Laryngeal oedema (with sufficient contact)
  • Superficial necrosis developing days after initial contact
  • Local skin erythema and/or oedema (typical of a contact dermatitis) due to contact with plant sap.[4]


First Aid [5]:

  1. Decontaminate mouth, eye, and skin by physically removing all plant material
  2. Treat eye and skin exposure with copious water irrigation
  3. Protect against contact with plant materials

Hospital Care[6]:

  1. Most exposures are self-limited and may only require analgesics to comfort patient.
  2. For oral exposure, assess for any airway compromise.
  3. Individuals without airway compromise can be given cold liquids and eat crushed ice, ice cream or deserts for relief. Using oral diphenhydramine elixir in the mouth can provide some local anaesthetic and antihistaminic effects.
  4. Individuals with laryngeal oedema is treated with antihistamines and observed until oedema subsides.
  5. Eye exposures should be treated with copious eye wash followed by slit lamp examination and flourescein straining to rule out corneal abrasions or ulcerations.
  6. Skin exposures require irrigation with fluid and local wound care. Some individuals may develop contact dermatitis.


  1. Thomas C. Fuller, Elizabeth May McClintock. Poisonous Plants of California: University of California Press Los Angeles 1986  pg. 269 – 270
  2. PROTA4U. Aglaonema commutatum Schott. [cited 2012 March 30]. Available from:
  3. Dan Henry Nicolson. A Review of the Genus Aglaonema (Araceae). Smithsonina Institution Press Washington; 1969. p. 49.
  4. MedScape References. Oxalate Poisoning Clinical Presentation. [cited 2012 March 30]. Available from;
  5. MedScape References. Oxalate Poisoning Treatment & Management. [cited 2012 March 30]. Available from:
  6. MedScape References. Oxalate Poisoning Treatment & Management. [cited 2012 March 30]. Available from:
  7. Dassanayake MD., A Revised Handbook of Flora of Ceylon, Model Press Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi 1988 pg. 45.

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