Dieffenbachia maculata 

(deef-fen-bach' ee-ah ma-cuu-lah' tah)

Common name: Dumb Cane, Tuftroot

Family: Araceae, Arum

Height x width: 3-10' x 1-2'

Foliage: broad, oblong or ovate, paddle-shaped leaves to 12" and 5-6" wide, variously variegated white, cream or yellow; some newer cultivars almost stemless

Flowers: creamy spathes seldom seen in cultivation

Light: bright

Temperature: warm

Watering: well-watered

Fertility: moderate

Humidity: high

Soil: evenly moist, average

Pests and Problems: root rot, leaf spots, bacterial blight or leaf spots, aphids, mealybugs (often a major problem), spider mites; leaves wilt or fall if too cold, edges turn brown if too wet or too dry

Growth habit, uses: foliage indoors

Other interest: cultivars separated by some references into amoena, maculata, picta or seguine, with maculata and amoena listed by some as seguine; named for Austrian gardener (1830's) Herr Dieffenbach; native to tropical regions of Central and South America; sap contains calcium oxalate crystals which when ingested cause severe throat burning, making a person unable to speak or "dumb", hence the name

Other culture: may need to air layer to rejuvenate tall plants

Propagation: tip or stem cuttings, pieces of stem laid horizontal root easily, air layering


Mostly hybrids, often with species listed above yet listed most often under this species, first created in mid 1800's in Belgium with several recent introductions. Many of the more known cultivars are listed here with those marked * more often seen.
Cultivar foliage
*'Camille' creamy, white veins, green edges
*'Exotica' marbled green and white, compact habit
'Paradise' white flecks, gray-green sheen, dark green margins
'Pia' white, tinged pale green, deep green margins
'Rebecca' creamy white variegation
'Roehrsii':'Rudolph Roehrs'  
*'Rudolph Roehrs' creamy yellow, white spots, dark green veins and margins
'Snow Queen' pale lemon to creamy gold, white veins, dark green edges
'Tropic Alix' pale green and cream center variegation
*'Tropic Snow' densely creamy yellow, dark green margins
'Tropic Topaz':'Tropic Snow'  

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS121, Indoor Plants.

Return to  Perry's Perennial Pages | PSS121 course