Have No Fear-Poinsettias Aren't Poisonous

Have No Fear-Poinsettias Aren't Poisonous
English ivy may be poisonous, and so are foxgloves. But let’s set the record straight. Poinsettias aren’t. These holiday plants have been falsely accused.

Life is full of myths. This one started about 83 years ago in Hawaii. According to myth, the child of an Army officer stationed in Hawaii died after eating some of the leaves. Unfortunately, this story is untrue. It never took place.

What does it take to prove the plant is safe? Studies have shown it is not toxic. According to the Society of American Florists (SAF), this is the most widely tested plant available today, and study after study has proven it to be non-toxic.

Researchers at the Ohio State University tested it by blending the plants up and feeding them to 55 rats. None of them experienced any symptoms. This is the typical way to test for toxicity. Even when they were given very high doses, the rats didn’t suffer.

According to the national information center for poison control centers (POISINDEX), it would take 500-600 poinsettia bracts (leaves) to exceed the experimental doses that proved non-toxic in the Ohio study. There is no way a child could ever eat that many bracts in a typical home setting.

What would be the reaction if one did eat large numbers of the bracts? Experts say there would be little reaction, and the reactions could possibly include vomiting and nausea or mild skin irritation if the individual reacts when the latex or sap touches the skin.

The Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University concluded that out of over 21,000 exposures by children to poinsettia was essentially no toxicity significance. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, only four percent of the cases even needed medical treatment or evaluation. 92% of the children that ate parts from poinsettia plants felt no affects whatsoever.

Enjoy those poinsettias. They aren’t poisonous.

Like all other houseplants, these holiday plants aren’t meant to be eaten. Children should be taught at a very young age to leave plants alone, and not put any portions of them into their mouths. If you believe that your child ingested poinsettia, by all means consult your doctor, but the chances are slim indeed that they would require any medical treatment.

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