Air plant toxocity?

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wilhelmturtletan
Posts: 14
Joined: 09 Sep 2017, 11:30

Air plant toxocity?

Post by wilhelmturtletan » 23 Sep 2017, 13:18

I am told by many people that air plants are toxic to reptiles though it is mainly meant to iguanas. Is it true?

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Nina
Posts: 810
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Air plant toxocity?

Post by Nina » 23 Sep 2017, 17:32

Well, this is interesting. You've probably seen our entry for Air Plant, but in case you haven't here is a link to it:
http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/plan ... cZ99NFryM8

We are always open to changing entries if there is good scientific evidence or new information. I've spent an interesting couple of hours researching this and have come up with some contradictory results! I did see that Air Plant (Tillandsia) included on a list of plants toxic to iguanas and a list of plants toxic to reptiles, but neither list states what the toxic principle is, or even what the symptoms of toxicity are.

I've also seen it on quite a few really reputable lists as being safe for cats and dogs and several reputable lists that states it is non-toxic to all animals.

Tillandsia is of course a genus of plants, and it contains 650 species. I've just now done another search of the scientific literature and found a reference to one species of Tillandsia that does seem to be toxic - this is Tillandsia cyanea (common name Pink Quill). The book 'Small Animal Toxicology'' by Peterson and Talcott lists Tillandsia cyanea as having insoluble calcium oxalates (also known as raphides), which can cause irritation in the mouth, throat and digestive system, and possible vomiting. It is well known that tortoises can eat some plants the would otherwise be toxic to animals, but I certainly wouldn't risk it.
I've also found a reference in a book on Flowering Plants by Takhtajan that has been badly translated that seems to indicate that other apecies of Tillandsia might have also calcium oxalate crystals -- but these are the only two sources I can find..

So I'm afraid there is no quick answer, as I need to do more research, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I think that whatever happens we will be adding something to our entry about the possibility of air plants containing calcium oxalate crystals, and we might even end up changing the traffic light on the entry -- so thanks very much for bringing this to our attention!

By the way, we now have a new section on the Forum called 'Questions about Plants' , which is designed for exactly this type of questions (it's just above this Diet and Nutrition section on the list). I'm not suggesting that we move this discussion to that section (lol, I wouldn't even know how to do that), but if you have any specific plant questions in future, that's a good place to post them.

Nina


wilhelmturtletan wrote:
> I am told by many people that air plants are toxic to reptiles though it is
> mainly meant to iguanas. Is it true?

wilhelmturtletan
Posts: 14
Joined: 09 Sep 2017, 11:30

Re: Air plant toxocity?

Post by wilhelmturtletan » 24 Sep 2017, 06:51

Oh really? hahahah I did not know there was a section for that. thanks

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