Arum palaestinum poisoning: revenge of the witch

Eur J Pediatr. 2020 Oct;179(10):1553-1557. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03648-x. Epub 2020 Apr 15.


The Arum palaestinum plant is one of the 26 species of the Arum genus of the Araceae family. This plant species is found through the Mediterranean region, Western Asia, and Europe. The leaves and seeds of the plant contain needle-shaped oxalate crystals that can irritate the affected tissue (skin, oral cavity, or GI tract) upon exposure. Up to this date, there is no available literature supporting the epidemiology or the clinical manifestations of poisoning by this plant. We retrospectively reviewed all Arum palaestinum exposures to children younger than 18 years of age reported to the Israel National Poison Information Center during 2017 from the IPIC computerized data system. We extracted demographic data and clinical data from those digital files. We reviewed the files of 53 patients' files and found slight male predominance (58% vs. 42%), and the age of exposure ranged from 9 month to 15 years. The main site of exposure was at home in most cases (47%) followed by outdoor exposure in 40% of the cases. In 66% of the cases, minor clinical manifestations were reported, mainly erythema and mouth irritation, agitation, and drooling. Asymptomatic patients composed 34% of the cases. In 17% of the cases, patients were recommended to visit an ambulatory facility, and other 15% of the cases were referred to the emergency department. There were no cases of severe poisoning, upper airways compromise, or death.Conclusion: Poisoning by Arum palaestinum is one of the most common pediatric plant poisoning in Israel. Our study supports with clinical data for the first time that this poisoning is self-limited, confined to the affected mucosa, and most likely does not necessitate any intervention. What is Known • A. palaestinum poisoning is one of the most common pediatric plant poisoning in Israel. • The leaves and seeds of the plant contain needle-shaped oxalates crystals. What is New • Pediatric exposure to A. palaestinum usually causes only mild and self-limited poisoning. • Expectant observation is the preferred management of such exposure.

Keywords: Araceae; Arum palaestinum; Pediatric poisoning; Plants; Toxicology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arum*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Poison Control Centers
  • Poisoning*
  • Retrospective Studies