Poinsettia Toxicity Myth

by Ardith Beveridge, Tastemaker in Residence

If you're a "I want the simple answer person" read Ardith's A Myth Breaker article.

If you live by the devils' in the details, Ardith provides the back stories regarding Poinsettia's effect on kids, allergies, pets and more below.

The poinsettia is the most widely tested consumer plant on the market today, proving the myth about the popular holiday plant to be false:

Poinsettia and Pets

  • As with any non-food product, the poinsettia is not meant to be eaten and can cause varying degrees of discomfort; therefore, the plant should be kept out of the reach of young children and curious pets.
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that the poinsettia could be "irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity."
  • The American Veterinary Medicine Association of America (AVMA) states: "While poinsettia is not deadly as popular legend would have it, it could still cause an upset stomach if consumed."
  • The Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory advises pet owners: “Wash sap off the animal to prevent further ingestion. Call a veterinarian if the eyes are affected, or if signs do not resolve in a few minutes.”
  • According to BMJ (British Medical Journal), one study, "looking at poinsettia ingestion by rats, could not find a toxic amount of poinsettia, even at amounts that would be the equivalent of 500-600 poinsettia leaves or nearly a kilogram of sap."

Poinsettia and Latex Allergies

  • According to the American Latex Allergy Association, only about 1 percent to 6 percent of the general population is allergic to latex, and "… one would have to have significant contact with the poinsettia plant's latex directly to have an allergic reaction … only a small drop of latex that can be immediately wiped off of the skin is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction."
  • According to various medical resources, most types of ivy would cause a burning sensation in the throat when ingested. And eating the leaves or berries of most varieties of holly would cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Again, all excellent reasons to keep your festive greenery away from little hands and paws, but not particularly life-threatenin g!

Information from Society of American Florists - Aboutflowers.com