Anatomy of the vegetative organs from Dieffenbachia picta Schott (Araceae) with an emphasis on crystals, laticifers and starch grains

We studied the distribution of crystals, laticifers and starch grains of the vegetative organs from dumb cane, Dieffenbachia picta Schott (Araceae), known in Brazil as "comigo-ninguém-pode" for such structures are meant to be responsible for mechanical and chemical irritation events carried out by the plant. We described the anatomy of leaves, aerial stems, rhizomes and roots with histological sections dyed in toluidine blue. We checked the chemical nature of crystals and the presence of lipids, alkaloids, starch grains and proteins with various reagents. Druses and calcium oxalate raphides - associated with lipids, alkaloids and proteins - were found in idioblasts spread in the parenchyma of all organs, in the collenchyma of the shoot and in the root meristems. Regarding the dissolution time, it was analogous for crystals in both young and old leaves; it was higher in stems than in leaves and higher in rhizomes than in roots. Starch grains associated with proteins were found in the chlorenchyma of the aerial stem (rod-shaped) and in rhizomes (spherical and rod-shaped). Laticifers were found interspersing parenchyma and collenchyma; raphides, alkaloids and lipids were found in latex. We found a higher number of crystals and laticifers in the aerial stem, and therefore such structure is the most dangerous organ if eaten or swallowed.

Dieffenbachia picta; dumb cane; crystalliferous idioblast; druse; latex; raphide; toxic plant

Sociedade Brasileira de Farmacognosia Universidade Federal do Paraná, Laboratório de Farmacognosia, Rua Pref. Lothario Meissner, 632 - Jd. Botânico, 80210-170, Curitiba, PR, Brasil, Tel/FAX (41) 3360-4062 - Curitiba - PR - Brazil