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Are Poinsettias Poisonous?


Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

Most of us have probably grown up believing that poinsettias, the beautiful red and pink Christmastime plants, were poisonous.  Even doctors and veterinarians have cautioned us from keeping our poinsettias too close to where children can reach them or pets could eat them.  The leaves of these ornamental plants have always been believed to be toxic to people and animals.  Is this necessarily true?

Recently, more test have been done to figure out if this hypothesis could just be a myth.  A research study conducted by Ohio State University  revealed that poinsettias are not actually poisonous at all!  All parts of this plant are non-toxic.  Most of the fear of poinsettias being poisonous came from an incident that happened in Hawaii in 1918, where a child passed away, with the cause of death suspected to be ingestion of a poinsettia plant.  Experts no longer believe that the ornamental plant had anything to do with the death of this child.

Today, the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, DC and other poison control centers across the country list poinsettias as non-poisonous plants.  As with anything, ingesting too much of it can result in negative symptoms.  According to the Madison Poison Control Center, a 50 pound child would have to eat 500-600 poinsettia leaves to to suffer any sort of ill effects.  That’s a lot of leaves!  At the very least, a child or pet who accidentally eats a poinsettia leaf could suffer from a minor upset stomach.

This Christmas, you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of your poinsettia plant without worry.  Keep in mind that not all ornamental holiday plants or houseplants are non-toxic though.  Various parts of other plants, including holly, mistletoe, English ivy, and others can cause severe reactions and may be fatal.  If in doubt, check it out!  It’s better to be safe than sorry!


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