Purple Heart Plant Is Poisonous To Humans

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purple heart plant poisonous to humans

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While it is captivating, the purple heart plant is considered poisonous to humans. The plant contains certain toxic compounds that can cause adverse reactions if ingested or if there is direct contact with the sap. 

In this article, we will go through the potential dangers of the Purple Heart plant and focus on its toxic properties and the symptoms that can occur from getting exposed to it. First, let’s find out why the purple heart plant is poisonous to humans.

Is Purple Heart Plant Good For Home?

The Purple Heart plant can be a beautiful addition to your home. Its vibrant purple foliage adds a touch of color and aesthetic appeal to any indoor space. It is also a plant that requires little maintenance and can tolerate a variety of light conditions and harsh weather conditions. Purple heart plants also help improve air quality by filtering pollutants and irritants.

How Poisonous Is The Purple Heart? 

The Purple Heart plant, scientifically known as Tradescantia pallida, possesses certain toxic properties that make it potentially harmful to humans. The plant contains compounds that may cause pretty nasty reactions if ingested or if there is direct contact with the sap. While the toxicity level of the Purple Heart plant is considered mild, it is important to maintain caution and avoid any form of consumption or contact with the plant. 

The purple heart plant contains a toxin called saponins, which can cause a variety of symptoms if ingested, including:

Burning In The Mouth, Tongue, And Throat

The purple heart sap contains compounds that can irritate the mucous membranes, causing a burning or tingling sensation. Prevent any oral contact with the plant and seek medical attention if those symptoms happen. Also, wash the affected area thoroughly with water if the sap comes into contact with the skin or eyes to reduce any irritation.

Stomach Upset

Ingesting the purple heart sap can cause severe stomach upset and abdominal pain. These gastrointestinal disturbances are usually mild to moderate in nature but can vary depending on the person’s sensitivity and the amount of sap ingested. 


The toxic compounds in purple heart sap irritate the gastrointestinal system and can lead to nausea and subsequent vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention if ingestion or exposure occurs and vomiting persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms.


If the sap is consumed, it can trigger an inflammatory response in the digestive system, leading to loose stools or abdominal cramps.  If accidentally consumed, and the diarrhea persists or worsens, seek medical attention immediately.


When the purple heart’s sap comes in contact with the skin or is accidentally ingested, it can lead to symptoms like redness or inflammation. Sometimes, people experience dizziness due to the irritants in the sap. This can include feeling lightheaded, imbalanced, or being disoriented. 


The sap contains certain compounds that can cause allergic reactions in individuals that touched, consumed, or came in contact with the plant. These can be from mild discomfort to more serious headaches, where the person might need immediate medical attention.


When ingested, the purple heart plant’s toxic compounds are absorbed into the blood and can affect the nervous system. The exact reason why the sap induces seizures is not fully understood, but it involves interference with normal neurotransmission in the brain.


For coma to occur, a significant amount of the sap would generally need to be ingested or enter the bloodstream through an open wound or other means. Just like seizures, the cause of coma is not yet exactly determined. 

The purple heart plant can also cause skin irritation if it comes into contact with the skin. Symptoms of skin irritation can include,


The sap contains chemical compounds that can be irritating to sensitive individuals. As a result, the skin sets off an inflammatory reaction when coming into contact with the sap redness on the skin. The severity of the response can vary from mild irritation to more visible symptoms, depending on the toucher’s sensitivity and the amount of sap they touched. 


The sap’s toxic chemicals can trigger allergic reactions. When the sap touches the skin, it causes redness, inflammation, and swelling in the 

affected area. 


The most common reaction when touching purple heart’s sap, the first thing an affected person might experience is itching. The itching may subside with time or worsen, so wash the affected area with warm water and mild soap. Seek urgent medical attention if the area swells, bleeds, or other severe symptoms occur. 


Besides the redness, swelling and/or itching, touching the purple heart sap can also cause blisters. Prolonged or repeated exposure to the sap may lead to the formation of blisters. These blisters can be painful and take time to heal completely. They can even get worse without proper medical attention. 

What Is The Purple Heart Plant Used For?

The Purple Heart plant is primarily used as an ornamental plant for its striking purple leaves. Due to its trailing growth habit, it is often used in hanging baskets, container gardens, and as ground cover. However, they are mostly used in masses for in-ground plantings and spread pretty quickly. The Purple Heart plant has been traditionally used in certain herbal medicine practices, and it is primarily appreciated for its aesthetic appeal in landscaping and horticulture.

Some Of The Medicinal Uses Of the Purple Heart Plant Include:

You would think to steer away from the purple heart plant first thing after coming across so many ways its sap can harm you, your children, or your furry friends. But the purple heart has several medicinal uses and benefits; it was widely used in ancient medicinal practices and is praised for having great healing properties. 

So, let’s take a look at some of them below, 


The Purple Heart plant contains compounds used for their anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed that these compounds help reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. In traditional medicine, extracts or preparations from the Purple Heart plant have been used topically to soothe minor skin irritations and reduce inflammation.

Pain Relief

Some traditional practices have attributed certain pain-relieving properties to the purple heart plant. The leaves and stems of the Purple Heart plant have been utilized in folk medicine for their potential analgesic effects. They are sometimes crushed or prepared as an infusion to create a topical application for relieving minor pains and discomforts. 

Stomach Problems

Purple heart is thought to contain properties helping in digestion, alleviating stomach problems, and relieving symptoms like bloating or indigestion.

Skin Problems

The Purple Heart plant has been used in folk medicine to address skin-related issues such as burns, cuts, or wounds. The plant also contains compounds with potential wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties. 


While there isn’t any evidence that the purple heart plant has directly contributed to cancer treatment, it can help with certain symptoms. Its effectiveness and safety in treating cancer have not been thoroughly studied or established. But in some cases, it can help combat potential risks for gastrointestinal cancer especially. 


What Do You Say Is A Purple Heart Plant Poisonous?

Yes, the Purple Heart plant can be poisonous. It contains toxic compounds that can harm humans if ingested or if there is direct contact with the sap. While the toxicity level is generally mild, it is always wise to be careful and avoid handling the plant. Ingestion or exposure to the sap can cause all kinds of problems, such as skin issues, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, to seizures, in worst cases.  If you have the purple heart plant on your property, keep it out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental exposure.

How Can I Prevent Purple Heart Poisoning?

To prevent Purple Heart poisoning, it is important to take necessary precautions. First, keep the plant out of reach of children and pets, as accidental consumption can occur. Educate family members about the potential toxicity of the plant and the importance of not consuming any part of it. 

When handling the Purple Heart plant, wear gloves to not directly touch the sap, which is its most toxic component. But if you do touch it, wash your hands immediately with soap and water. Finally, if you’re worried about the plant’s toxicity, just plant other non-toxic plants and keep your yard safe for your kids and furry friends!

Can You Be Allergic To Purple Heart Plants?

Yes, being allergic to Purple Heart plants is possible. So if you have one in your living room, time to get it outside. Most develop allergic reactions when touching the plant’s sap which contains saponins, its most active toxin. Common symptoms include skin redness, itching, swelling, and other issues like headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect an allergy to Purple Heart plants, avoid direct contact, take necessary steps, and consult with a medical professional for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of your allergies. Also, wear gloves and other protective accessories when going around or handling the plant, especially if you have sensitive skin.

What Is The Symptom Of Purple Heart Poisoning In Humans?

Symptoms of purple heart plant poisoning can range from anywhere between mild, such as itching or redness, to extremely severe, like diarrhea and even seizures. It depends on the amount of exposure, meaning how much of the plant they have come in contact with or consumed. Let’s take a look at most if not all, symptoms of purple heart plant poisoning in humans, 
Burning in the mouth, tongue, or throat.
Stomach upsets.
Dizziness or Lethargy. 

If any of these symptoms occur upon contact with the plant, or the symptoms multiply and exacerbate over time, seek medical attention immediately.

Can Pets Be Affected By The Purple Heart Plant?

Yes, pets can be affected by the Purple Heart plant. The plant contains certain toxic compounds that can cause nasty reactions if your pet ingests it or directly contacts the sap. Dogs and cats are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of the Purple Heart plant, as they’re the most curious. Eating the plant can lead to symptoms like excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and liver or kidney damage in severe cases. Therefore, it is very important to keep pets away from the Purple Heart plant and seek immediate veterinary attention if any signs of poisoning are visible.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article helped you identify how the purple heart plant is poisonous to humans. While the Purple Heart plant is stunning, be aware of its toxic properties. Purple heart’s toxic compounds cause bad reactions if consumed or touched, especially its sap, as we’ve seen. So be extra careful if you’re handling a purple heart plant or have it in your backyard. Wear gloves and/or other protective gear, and wash your hands immediately after touching one, even if you don’t notice any symptoms. If you have kids or pets, it’s best you plant non-toxic alternatives.

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Jack Daniel

I am Jack Daniel, and I have been gardening for more than 20 years now. I believe that with my years of experience, I can help you with backyard ideas and backyard product reviews. So, with the motto to help anyone facing gardening issues or wanting tips on enhancing the beauty of their backyards, I have created Backyard Muse. So, before anything else, I want to welcome you warmly to my site.


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