The peace lily, or Spathiphyllum flower, does harbor a certain amount of toxicity to both humans and pets according to a study carried out at North Carolina State University. With one large white petal wrapped around a spiky, pale yellow central structure called a spathe—where the spathiphyllum houses its reproductive machinery—this plant is more closely related to palm trees than to the tiger lilies you might find in your backyard. This distinctive flower is commonly used in Easter bouquets and household planters, as it is both strikingly beautiful and low-maintenance.
Of course, we cannot forget its darker side: Calcium oxalate, the crystalline salt responsible for the painful tingling and burning sensation that ingesting this plant can create, is the same mineral that can build up in the kidneys and create stones. If you’ve ever heard about the unpleasant process of “passing” a kidney stone, you’ll be a lot more careful about upkeep with the peace lily on your kitchen table. Fortunately, it would take eating a huge amount of the flower and its leaves to impart enough chemical to substantially harm a grown adult. Conservative estimates derived from data collected at Hampshire College say a grown woman of 130 pounds would have to eat five pounds (over two kilograms) of plant matter before approaching a lethal dose.
Pet owners, on the other hand, should pay close attention to the possible dangers of this lovely flower. The process of kidney stone formation is a slow and relatively silent one, and consistent exposure to peace lily leaves could result in significant damage to the kidneys of cats and dogs—even renal failure. While they may look pretty, if you’re shopping for a pet owner, then the peace lilies should stay at the florist and maybe a nice fruit basket will make a good Easter gift this year.