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Caladium bicolor

Botanical Name

Caladium bicolor (Aiton) Vent. [1]


Arum bicolor Ait
Caladium surinamense Miq.
Caladium regale Lem  
Caladium bicolor (Ait.) Vent., var. regale (Lem.) Engl.  
Caladium bicolor (Ait.) Vent., var. surinamense (Miq.) Engl.  
Caladium bicolor (Ait.) Vent., var. rubicundum Engl. [4]



Vernacular Names


Malay Keladi

Angel Wings, Caladium, Heart of Jesus, Mother in Law Plant [1]


Keladi berwarna, Keladi hias [3]


Corazon de Maria [1] [2]

Hawaii Kalo Kalakoa [2]



Caladium bicolor is a member of the Araceae family. It is a small deciduous herbaceous plants which can reach up to 1m. The rhizomes are globose. The cataphylls are linear-lanceolate, subulate at the apex and measures 2.5–9.0 cm long and up to 1cm wide. The leaves are variable. The petioles are slender and vaginate in the basal part, measures 16–55 cm long. The sheaths are 4.5–13.0 cm long and up to 1.5 cm wide. The leaf blade is herbaceous, peltate, sagittate-ovate, acuminate and mucronate at the apex. Margins are often undulating and they measures up to 35 cm long and 17 cm wide. The upper surface of the leaves have spots of white, pink, red, purple or yellow, exhibiting much variation in colour and design. The peduncle is slender and measures up to 38 cm long. The basal part of spathe is coriaceous, tubular, green in colour and measures 2.5 – 4 cm long. The limbs are ovate, acuminate, thin, white or yellowish white and measures between 4.5 – 7 cm long and  2.5 cm wide. The spandix is obligue at its insertion; basal female part 1.0–1.8cm long; sterile part is constricted and 1–2cm long; the male part is clavate and white and measures 2.8 – 4.5 cm long. The synandria are quadrangular, slightly lobed, consisting of 4 stamens, 1.3–1.5mm high and 1.5–1.8mm in diameter; sterile syandria are oblong, circumference 5 mm long. Ovary incopmpletely 2-celled, cylindrical, 1mm high and 0.9 mm in diameter. They are crowned by a broader discoid style and a yellow crateriform stigma. Fruits pink. [4]


Native of Tropical America. Now cultivated in all tropical countries and in the greenhouses of temperate regions. [4]

Plant Use

Ornamental. Two varieties C. bicolour var. poecile and C. bicolour var. vellozianum have edible tubers. However, these tuber needs to be boiled several times before consumption. The latter in fresh form is used as an emetic and purgative in Brazil. [2] In Nigeria the leaves and rhizomes are used medicinally as topical applications for boils, wounds and ulcers. They are also used as purgatives and in the treatment of convulsions. [5]

Toxic Parts

Whole plant [1]


Raphides of water-insoluble calcium oxalate and unverified proteinaceous toxins. [1]

Risk Management

The colourful leaves are attractive to young children especially toddlers. At this age they have the habit of putting things in their mouth and are faced with dangers of hurting themselves in this manner. It is wise for young family and families with young children to avoid planting this attractive plants and placing them within reach of these children.


Clinical Findings

Inflammatory reactions often with oedema and blistering. The victim suffers from burning sensation of the lips and mouth. In severe cases there may be hoarseness, dysphonia and dysphagia. The swelling of the tongue and throat can lead to blockage of the air passages which could lead to death if not attended immediately. [1]


Prehospital care:

  1. Remove all traces of plant material from areas contaminated with it i.e. mouth, eye and skin, immediately. Rescuers should ensure they are protected from contact with these plant materials.
  2. Exposed areas should be copiously irrigates with water.
  3. If ingested, the mouth should be repeatedly rinsed with cool water or a demulcent.
  4. Provide analgesics if pain is severe.

Emergency Department care:

  1. Oral exposure – Asses airway for any signs of compromise. Those without compromised airway can be given cold liquids, crushed ice or ice cream for relief. Keeping or swishing antihistamine liquid like diphenhydramine in the mouth can provide local anaesthetic and antihistaminic effects. Those with evidence of laryngeal oedema can be treated with antihistamines and observed or better admitted until oedema subsides.
  2. Eye exposures – Copious irrigation with water. Rule out corneal involvement by performing slit-lap examination with fluorescein staining.
  3. Skin exposures – Washing with soap and water suffice, and local wound care it there exist any wounds. Some people may develop contact dermatitis. [1], [6]


  1. Nelson L, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. New York Botanical Garden New York 2007; p. 98 – 99.
  2. Clay HF, Hubbard JC. The Hawai’i Garden: Tropical Exotics University of Hawaii. Press Honolulu; 1987. p. 38.
  3. Ambarwati S. Budi Daya Tanaman. Hias Ganeca Exact Jakarta;2007 pg. 45
  4. De Waard JF Flora of Suriname, Volume 6, Part 1 Van Eedenfonds, Netherlands; 1968. pg. 55 – 56 .
  5. Odugbemi T. Outlines and Pictures of Medicinal Plants of Nigeria. University of Lagos Press Lagos; 2006. pg. 112.
  6. Oxalate Poisoning. [Cited on 2011 April 20]. Available from:

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