dumb cane

dumb cane
a West Indian foliage plant, Dieffenbachia seguine, of the arum family, having yellow-blotched leaves that cause temporary speechlessness when chewed. Also called mother-in-law plant.
[1690-1700]

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plant
      any of about 30 species of herbaceous plants valued as indoor foliage for their ability to tolerate low light intensities. The name mother-in-law's tongue, sometimes used for these plants, is also applied to Sansevieria species. Dumb cane (especially D. seguine) gets its name from the temporary speechlessness that occurs after chewing a piece of the stem. Juices of the plant contain oxalates and other substances that irritate the mucous membranes and cause swelling and inflammation of the tongue and throat. Dumb cane is reported to have been given to slaves as a form of punishment.

      Dieffenbachia includes about 30 species of erect tropical American herbs in the arum or aroid family (Araceae). Only a few display fancy, large, more or less variegated leaves; they include D. maculata (formerly D. picta) and D. seguine (native to the West Indies), both of which have yielded colourful varieties of horticultural interest. D. amoena is a plant of large size, up to 6 feet (180 cm) or more, with 20-inch- (50-cm-) long leaves, having creamy markings along the larger veins. Flowers are borne on a long spadix, with male flowers on top and female flowers below. A row of sterile flowers separates the two sexes. Clusters of bright red or red-orange berries are the resultant fruits. The genus was named for an Austrian gardener of the 1800s who worked at Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn, Schloss).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dumb cane — Dumb Dumb, a. [AS. dumb; akin to D. dom stupid, dumb, Sw. dumb, Goth. dumbs; cf. Gr. ? blind. See {Deaf}, and cf. {Dummy}.] 1. Destitute of the power of speech; unable; to utter articulate sounds; as, the dumb brutes. [1913 Webster] To unloose… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dumb-cane — dumbˈ cane noun A tropical American araceous plant (Dieffenbachia seguine) whose juice contains crystals of calcium oxalate which cause swelling of the tongue • • • Main Entry: ↑dumb …   Useful english dictionary

  • dumb cane — dumb′ cane n. pln a West Indian foliage plant, Dieffenbachia seguine, having yellow blotched leaves that cause temporary speechlessness when chewed • Etymology: 1690–1700 …   From formal English to slang

  • dumb cane — dėmėtoji difenbachija statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Aroninių šeimos dekoratyvinis, vaistinis nuodingas augalas (Dieffenbachia seguine), paplitęs Pietų Amerikoje. atitikmenys: lot. Dieffenbachia seguine angl. dumb cane; dumbplant; mother… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • dumb cane — noun Etymology: from the fact that chewing it causes the tongue and throat to swell Date: 1696 dieffenbachia …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dumb cane — noun A member of the family Dieffenbachia …   Wiktionary

  • dumb cane — noun a thick stemmed Caribbean plant with a poisonous sap that swells the tongue and destroys the power of speech. [Dieffenbachia seguine.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • dumb cane — noun an evergreen plant with large showy dark green leaves; contains a poison that swells the tongue and throat hence the name • Syn: ↑mother in law plant, ↑mother in law s tongue, ↑Dieffenbachia sequine • Hypernyms: ↑arum, ↑aroid • …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dumb — Dumb, a. [AS. dumb; akin to D. dom stupid, dumb, Sw. dumb, Goth. dumbs; cf. Gr. ? blind. See {Deaf}, and cf. {Dummy}.] 1. Destitute of the power of speech; unable; to utter articulate sounds; as, the dumb brutes. [1913 Webster] To unloose the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Dumb ague — Dumb Dumb, a. [AS. dumb; akin to D. dom stupid, dumb, Sw. dumb, Goth. dumbs; cf. Gr. ? blind. See {Deaf}, and cf. {Dummy}.] 1. Destitute of the power of speech; unable; to utter articulate sounds; as, the dumb brutes. [1913 Webster] To unloose… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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