- Caladium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Earache. They are often known by the common name 'elephant ear", which they share with closely related genera of Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma. There are more than 1000 named cultivars of Caladium bicolor from the original South American plant. (23)
- It is grown as an ornamental houseplant for its large, heart- or lance-shaped leaves with striking white pink and red blotching.
Corazon de Maria is a long-lived perennial herb arising from a fleshy, roundish, underground stem (corm). Leaves have an elongated stalk and a heart-shaped blade, 10 to 40 centimeters long, 6 to 30 centimeters wide, variously colored on the upper surface, green or blotched with red and white in various patch designs. Blade is mostly green, with scattered white spots and reddish veins. Fleshy flower cluster (spadix) is erect, shorter than the enclosing bract (spathe), about 10 centimeters long, tubular, constricted at the middle, green on the outer surface, white on the inner. Flowers are of one sex, without stalk and floral envelope (perianth); males are crowded on the upper part of the cluster, the females on the lower. Fruit is a berry, many seeded.
- Ornamental cultivation in Philippine gardens for its various colors and leaf shapes.
- Occasional use as hedge plant.
- Native to Trinidad, Guiana, and Brazil.
- A dormant geophyte herb extensively commercialized in the horticultural global trade.
- A problematic invasive species in some countries: Trinidad and Tobago, Guam, Micronesia, Palau, Hawaii, and the Philippines.
- Phytochemical screening yielded the presence of saponins, flavonoids, limonoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, carotenoids, lactones, xanthophs, oxalate, cyanide, and terpenes.
- Methanol extracts of leaves and bulbs of Caladium bicolor and C. tricolor yielded varying amounts of alkaloids, saponins, cardiac glycosides, terpenoids/steroids, de-oxy sugars, phenols, flavonoids, reducing sugars, and carbohydrates. (see study below)
- Considered antiseptic, anti-tumor, emetic, laxative, insecticide.
- Studies have shown antioxidant, biosorbent, antimicrobial, antiangiogenic, cytotoxic, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anxiolytic properties.
Caution / Toxicity
- Poisonous ingredients are raphides of water insoluble calcium oxalate. Symptoms from eating or touching the eye include: burning in the mouth, tongue and throat with or without swelling or blistering, hoarseness, eye pain and corneal damage, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. (11)
- Management: (1) Remove traces of plant from contaminated areas (eyes, mouth, skin); wipe with wet cloth. (2) Copiously irrigate with water (3) If ingested, rinse mouth with cool water or demulcent; milk to drink. (4) Analgesics as needed for pain (5) Emergency room care.
Leaves, rhizomes, and tubers.
Edibility / Caution
- All parts of the plant, but especially the leaves and bulb, when raw, contain irritant crystals of calcium oxalate. When cooked, both leaves and bulbs have been eaten as vegetables in tropical America and the West Indies.
- Some advise that all parts of the plant are poisonous if consumed in large amounts.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Elsewhere, used for sore throats, constipation, catarrh, wounds.
- Used for sores and toothache.
- For facial paralysis, crushed bulbs applied to the face.
- In Brazil, heated bulbs are covered with olive oil and applied to tumors. Also, decoction of leaves used as vermifuge and purgative; externally used for furunculosis.
- In Nigeria, heated leaves and rhizomes applied to boils and abscesses. (14)
- In Cameroon, decoction of tubers and leaves used for vaginal inflammation.
- Used for treatment of ulcers, boils, convulsions.
- Insecticide: In the Philippines, powdered leaves are used as insecticide.
- Veterinary: In India, decoction of leaves used for external cattle festers caused by worms.
• All parts of the plant, especially the leaves and bulb, when raw, contain raphides of water-insoluble calcium oxalate and other proteinaceous toxins.
• Excessive dosing can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the eyes, and swelling of the mouth and tongue.
• Although attractive, avoid planting within easy reach of children.
• Phytochemicals / Polyphenols: Study of the polyphenol content of stem, leaf, bulbs, and roots of three caladium sp. showed significant differences. All three yielded polyphenols, saponins, carotenoids, alkaloids, limonoids,and flavonoids. The polyphenol content of C bicolor was significantly higher than that of C. ornamental and C. variegatum. The leaves of the three plants were significantly higher in polyphenols than the stem, bulb, and roots. Saponins were also extensively found. Cyanide content was highest in C. bicolor, with the roots yielding more cyanide than the bulb, stem and leaves. The presence of the biochemical components suggest a potential for use in cancer. (9)
• Antioxidant / Antibacterial: Study of methanol extracts of leaves and bulbs showed moderate antibacterial and antifungal activity against selected wound pathogens (Streptococcus pyogenes, P. aeruginosa, K. pneumonia and Candida albicans). In DPPH assay, leaves extract of C. bicolor (green background with white patches) showed the highest free radical scavenging activity (64.7%, IC50 value 1.15 mg/ml) which could be correlated to the phenolic content. (12)
• Membrane Stabilizing / Antimicrobial: Study showed test samples of C. bicolor and C. ablum demonstrated significant membrane stabilizing potentials (inhibition of hypotonic solution and heat induced hemolysis of RBCs) and mild to moderate antimicrobial activity. A chloroform soluble fraction showed the highest zone of inhibition against Staphylococcus aureus. (13)
• Biosorbent for Treatment of Heavy Metal Contaminated Wastewater: Study reports on an environmental friendly and affordable technology for the use of C. bicolor as a naturally occurring biosorbent for the removal of cationic pollutants in wastewater. Data show Caladium bicolor is a successful biosorbent for treating heavy metal contaminated wastewater and has potential as an alternative adsorbent. (15)
• Antidiarrheal / Leaves: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal activity of an aqueous leaf extract of C. bicolor. The extract caused significant (p<0.001) dose-dependent inhibition of castor oil-induced intestinal transit with peak effect, 100% inhibition, elicited at the dose of 50 mg/kg. Results suggest an antidiarrheal activity due to its anti-motility effect possibly through an antagonist action on intestinal muscarinic receptors and agonist action on intestinal α2-adrenoreceptors. (16)
• Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study evaluated the active compounds, secondary metabolites, and antimicrobial activity of a methanol leaf extract of Caladium bicolor against selected clinical isolates viz., Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida albicans using agar well diffusion. The extract showed broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria with highest zone of inhibition of 10 mm. Antimicrobial activity was attributed to tannins, alkaloids, and saponins. (17)
• Subacute Toxicity Effects on the Liver and Kidney: Study evaluated the possible pathological effects of sub-acute exposure of methanol extract of Caladium bicolor on hepatic histomorphology of experimental Wistar rats. Extract was administered in doses of 100, 200, and 300 mg/kbw for 28 days. Results showed exposure to the extract caused significant increase in serum ALT and AST along with prominent hepatic histopathological changes such as inflammation, necrosis, and steatosis. The effects were dose-dependent hepatopathy. (19) Study evaluated the subacute (28 days) toxicological profile of methanol extract of leaves in rat. Results showed no significant change in organ weights of the rats. Hematological indices were comparable to control except for a slight increase in monocyte levels (p<0.05). ALT and ALP were comparable to control. There was a significant decrease in AST. There were no significant differences in lipid levels. Photomicrographs of the heart, lungs, brain, spleen and liver show not abnormalities. However, the kidneys showed focal infiltrate of lymphocytes disrupting the renal tubules and interstitium at 400 mg/kg/day. The methanol extract of leaves appeared safe; however, prolonged use might lead to renal failure. (21)
• Neuropharmacological Effects / Anxiolytic / Anticonvulsabt / Antidepressant / Leaves: Study evaluated the effect of l dried, powdered leaf extracts on some neuropharmacological parameters. Phytochemical screening of leaf extracts yielded carbohydrates, proteins, alkaloids, and flavonoids . The extract showed varying levels of protection against strychnine-induced convulsion. The n-hexane, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts increased latency (p<0.01) to pentylenetetrazole-induced convulsion and varying levels of protection against maximal electroshock-induced seizure. There was increased duration of stay on the open arm of elevated plus maze and reduction in duration of immobility in forced swim test. Results showed anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and antidepressant properties. (20)
• Antiangiogenic / Antitoxic / Antioxidant/: Study evaluated the antiangiogenic, antioxidant, and cytotoxicty properties of methanol extract of leaves if Caladium bicolor using slight modifications of chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay., free radical scavenging, and lethal exposures to cultured lymphocytes. Results revealed concentration-dependent antiangiogenic, antioxidant, and cytotoxic potential. (22)