Examining the Poisonous Traits of the Devil’s Backbone Plant

Mother of Thousands, also known as devil’s backbone, is an ornamental plant that is widely cultivated in gardens in tropical countries. If you have pets or young children at home, you may be asking “Is the devil’s backbone plant poisonous?”.

is the devil's backbone plant poisonous

Is the Devil’s Backbone Plant Poisonous?

The devil’s backbone is a medicinal plant native to the African island of Madagascar. In addition to being an ornamental plant, it is easy to reproduce and has medicinal properties that must be used with caution, because in high doses there may be a risk of poisoning and because it has little scientific evidence.

The scientific name of devil’s backbone is Kalanchoe daigremontiana and the plants belonging to this family possess the substance bufadienolide, with properties that can be effective in fighting cancer. This relationship is not yet fully clarified by scientific studies and still needs more research.

Devil’s Backbone Plant: What is it for and how to use

devils backbone plant 1

What is it for

Devil’s backbone is popularly used in the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases, diarrheal episodes, fever, cough, and wound healing. Because it has sedative actions, it is also used in patients with psychiatric illnesses, such as panic attacks and schizophrenia.

It can be effective in fighting cancer because it has a high cytotoxic property, by attacking cancer cells. However, so far there is not enough scientific evidence of this benefit with the direct consumption of the leaves of the plant.

Medicinal properties

Devil’s backbone has anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, healing, analgesic and potentially anti-tumor actions.

How to use devil’s backbone

The popular use of devil’s backbone is made by consuming its leaves in the form of juices, teas, or raw in salads. No more than 30 g of devil’s backbone should be consumed per day, due to the risk of toxic effects in the body with high doses.

The application on wounds is also traditionally used to accelerate the healing process.

Before starting the consumption of devil’s backbone, a doctor should be consulted and the certification that it is the correct plant is essential, so as not to run the risk of ingesting plant species that are toxic to humans.

Possible Side Effects

There is a risk of poisoning with consumption higher than 30 grams/day. Therefore, a daily dose of a maximum of 30 grams of the leaf is recommended, since ingestion of a higher dose can cause paralysis and muscle contractions.


The consumption of the devil’s backbone plant is contraindicated in pregnant women, as it can interfere with uterine contractions. Children and people with hypoglycemia and low blood pressure should not consume this plant.

There are no contraindications within the indicated daily dose since the devil’s backbone is not classified as a toxic plant but it is essential to consult a doctor before starting its consumption.