logo
g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

dailyclick
Bored? Games!
Nutrition
Postcards
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

new
European Travel
Action Movies
Bible Basics
Houseplants
Romance Movies
Creativity
Family Travel


dailyclick
All times in EST

Full Schedule
g
g Urban Legends Site

BellaOnline's Urban Legends Editor

g

Poisonous Poinsettias

Guest Author - Melissa Lamkin

With beautiful red and gold leaves poinsettias are the perfect winter accent and are loved throughout America as Christmas flowers. They brighten up any autumn garden or dreary winter room and bring a touch of holiday cheer to any house. But, beautiful and deadly is the poinsettia, because these blooms hide a deadly secret! If eaten, they'll poison your kids and dogs! Right? Right?

There is an enduring legend, especially in America, that these delicate looking and somewhat finicky plants will poison anyone who eats them. Fortunately, for this lovely plant, that is just not true. This legend has been around for nearly a century and has penetrated quite far into the American consciousness. Most people don't even question it. They just know to the core of their being that it is a beautiful but dangerous plant.

Before we look at where this myth came from, let's look quickly at the plant itself: They're named for Joel Poinsett, who while serving as the first Minister to Mexico in the 1820's, first brought them to the United States. Their scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, and in the wild the poinsettia bush can grow as large as six feet! What people love most about the poinsettia, the bright, traditionally red blooms, are actually not flowers. The red parts of the poinsettia bloom are actually called “bracts” and are really modified leaves. See, learning is fun!

The genesis for this UL seems to date to 1919 and a report in Hawaii of a boy dying after eating the plant. Medical examination later disproved this theory, but by then the story was off and running. It made it into print in a newspaper and stories like this capture public attention as no following-on medical examination ever can. The next public interest story came from Ann Landers in March 1987. She published a letter from a woman claiming her cat had been poisoned by the plant. Two months later, Ann Landers published a retraction and cited scientific and government research disproving the idea that the plant was poisonous. But again, retractions are not so attention grabbing and don't spread the same way, or at the same speed, as a frightening or terrible story.

To give support to the non-poisonous fact of the poinsettia, research has been published by both the Ohio State University and Poisindex. Their findings suggest that a 50 lb child would have to eat more than 500 bracts before he or she would become seriously ill.

That doesn't mean you, or your cat, should start stuffing poinsettia leaves in your mouth though. The plant is incredibly bitter and that can cause stomach upset. Also, the sap can cause minor skin irritation for some people. So, enjoy your beautiful blooms, but try to resist the urge to eat them.
Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Twitter Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Facebook Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to MySpace Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Del.icio.us Digg Poisonous+Poinsettias Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Yahoo My Web Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Google Bookmarks Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Stumbleupon Add Poisonous+Poinsettias to Reddit




RSS | Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map


For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Urban Legends Newsletter


Past Issues


print
Printer Friendly
bookmark
Bookmark
tell friend
Tell a Friend
forum
Forum
email
Email Editor


Content copyright © 2014 by Melissa Lamkin. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Melissa Lamkin. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Mary Beth Crabb for details.

g


g features
How to Spot an Urban Legend in Your Email

What is an Urban Legend?

Archives | Site Map

forum
Forum
email
Contact

Past Issues
memberscenter


vote
Poetry
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Less than Monthly



BellaOnline on Facebook
g


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2014 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


BellaOnline Editor