Poisonous Poinsettias?

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

When I was telling a female worker from another company that my company gave away poinsettia plants every year as Christmas gifts to a few, randomly selected employees, she told me that poinsettias were poisonous. I had not heard that before and asked some other employees and they said they had heard the same thing.

A common and colorful plant, given as a gift, and poisonous! A tort master’s dream. However, it’s a myth.

The myth stated when a two-year-old child died of poisoning that was incorrectly thought to have been caused by the ingestion of a poinsettia leaf. The poinsettia is a species of the genus Euphorbia. While some Euphorbia species are toxic, poinsettias are not one of them.

The Minnesota Poison Control System points out:

The fact is that they are not poisonous. Nor are they edible and it can be expected that, when eaten in quantity, they may cause stomach upset with possible vomiting. This may happen when an overactive puppy devours an entire plant. In the case of a child who eats a single leaf, no ill effects would be expected.

Fortunately, I didn’t “win” a poinsettia this year or any of the previous years.

H/T: Snopes.

12 thoughts on “Poisonous Poinsettias?”

  1. I have found vets who say “Poisonous, yep.” and “poisonous, nope.” so I figure better to go with the ‘yep.’ guys.
    Pardon me, that sounds beautiful

  2. Forty-plus years ago, my sister had a beautiful December wedding. Bridesmaids wore green brocade dresses, hooded capes made of emerald velvet and we carried red poinsettias. The bride in her self-made gown carried white. I thought it was all gorgeous.

    There is another holiday plant, mistletoe, that is poisonous. Strange that people kiss underneath it.
    From Wikipedia: “Mistel is the Anglo-Saxon word for dung, and tan is the word for twig, put together this becomes dung-on-a-twig.”

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  3. Allison,

    I love Pointsettas and have several of them all over the house at Christmas time usually in arrangement that also contain ivy and pine. I also have and have always had cats. I place a few moth balls in the dirt of each plant … just a few so there is no odor to people but cats are sensitive to the odor from moth balls and thus stay far away from the plants. I have been doing this for over 25 years and have never had a problem or a sick cat.

  4. I can’t have them because my cat tries to eat the leaves. While they only cause an upset stomach in humans, cats are much smaller so the effects are more pronounced. A cat would have to still eat a lot to die, but I don’t want to clean up red cat vomit ever again!

  5. i’ve heard they were poisonous and that they we not. i’ve never felt the urge to eat one either way. i usually keep houseplants where the cats can’t get them if i want to keep the plants.

    i’ve given up having a tree too. seems like they think its either a playground or a campsite.

  6. Ah well, we have a Pointsetta lover; a Pointsetta hater, based on their fragility and bad work experience and now I would like to submit my name for approval as a bonafied Pointsetta Hater as well but based on the fact that I have always though them an ugly plant. I never liked those wrinkly leaves and the sad dull red color even at their best. Also the flower petals are just wrinkly leaves clored red or white or pink; and a nasty watered down bub ble gum pink as well. Yuck.

    However I also have some work experience with Pointsettas as it happens. Small world huh?

    I have worked with Pointsettas as a child in my Uncle’s Florist shop in Baltimore. We moved them and watered them and delivered them. they were everywhere…………………………for weeks and weeks. worked there off and on from the time I was about eight or nine until I was about fourteen

    The other was when I was fifteen and had just relocated with my family to a place near Westchester Pa. I took a summer job working in a local greenhouse. Upon arriving for my first day; imagine my surprize when i found that this Nursery’s biggest money maker and therefore about 90% of their business was; yep you guessed it; those damned Pointsettas agin. Thousands and thousands of them.

    I hate Pointsettas- They’re UGLY! Period.

  7. I must confess I absolutely hate poinsettas and it has nothing to do with Christmas, but unfortunately their proliferation at Christmastime disturbs me. While I was working my way through college o the various holidays where floral gifts were a tradition I would do flower delivery for my big brother, a florist.

    At the time I had an MG 1100, a boxy little car with the shape of an old VW Golf. The backseat could be removed and I had space for many plants. At 50 cents a delivery (this was the early 60’s) plus tips, I could do well in a 12 hour day providing I could stuff my car with plants and rush from stop to stop. Poinsettia’s of course were the bulk of the action. Their leaves are quite delicate and if injured “bled” a milky white substance and couldn’t be delivered. At times I would have 30 plants stuffed into my car and if any “bled” they would have to be returned to the shop, wasting my time and cutting into my pay. Almost 50 years later I can feel the tension that would grip me as I went through my long day of deliveries.

    Since then I have loathed the plant and would urge everyone to consider the beauty of a well-turned wreath as a substitute.

  8. Poinsettias and pets- Irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.
    From– http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/Plants.aspx

    Please remember as with humans, animals do have allergies and may have a serious reaction to anything ingested! Keep a close eye on any animal if you suspect they have eaten something they shouldn’t have.
    The ASPCA online has an extensive list of indoor/outdoor plants to be cautious of.
    NOTE-If you call the ASPCA for info you may be charged a fee.

  9. My goat eats them every xmas. He does not throw up afterward but he does sing some little ditty afterward.

  10. Diffenbachia plant,now that would be a whole different story.My favorite large house plant by the way.

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