from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several plants of the genus Dieffenbachia native to tropical America, having stout, jointed stems and large, variegated leaves and widely cultivated as an indoor plant. Also called dumb cane, dumb plant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several plants, of the genus Dieffenbachia, cultivated as houseplants


New Latin, genus name, after Ernst Dieffenbach (1811-1855), German naturalist.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • I had surprised her with it one night, a lovely large dieffenbachia with emerald-and-cream variegated leaves.

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  • Working on the assumption that all living things require water, but apparently forgetting that they also need air, she began flooding the dieffenbachia on a daily basis.

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  • Then they came to the taller plants: four-foot-tall ficus trees, false aralias, and dieffenbachia.

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  • They sat in green stuffed chairs in a room with a big dieffenbachia in a corner and a lush Swedish ivy in a brown jute macramé hanger at the window.

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  • And I'm talking dieffenbachia, draecaena, cactus and sanseveria.

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  • Sap from the dieffenbachia can cause eye problems, such as inflammation.

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  • Another popular plant is the dieffenbachia, or mother-in-law plant, which has large, oblong leaves painted with light white splotches.

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  • • Backdrop low, bushy plants like kalanchoe or Chinese evergreen against tall, spiky plants like dieffenbachia or sansevieria.

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  • Notwithstanding his otherwise respectable place in medical history, his name, in uncomplimentary fashion, has been given to the common houseplant dieffenbachia, or dumbcane—so called because its stalk contains oxalates that can render a person speechless from inflammation of the tongue and throat.

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  • The common houseplant dieffenbachia, known colloquially as dumbcane, indicates the practical effect of his surgery.

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