Poinsettia Plants Aren’t so Bad after All

November 15, 2018 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

As the holidays draw near, there are PSAs everywhere about how to protect your pet from the most dangerous of plants: the poisonous poinsettia. While the holidays do bring some extra challenges and risks for our pets, that particular danger is a bit overblown. Think twice before you ditch yours just because of a pet (or curious toddler). As it turns out, the poinsettia’s reputation is rather undeserved.


The poinsettia is naturally found in Mexico and has become a traditional holiday decoration. The plant has bright red and green leaves reminiscent of the Christmas season. For some reason, the poinsettia has been labeled as a toxic plant—dangerous to children, pets, and maybe even your spouse! In reality, there is very little evidence to back up this claim and Snopes believes the myth began as a faked news story about a toddler dying after eating a single leaf.

The latex and sap of poinsettia plants are technically toxins—the same way a tomato (found in the same family) is “toxic” because of a compound called tomatine. The toxins are extremely mild in both cases and you’d have to eat an awful lot to have even a chance of becoming sick. We eat “toxins” every single day, it’s all a matter of how technical you want to get.

So is a poinsettia going to harm a child or pet, even if consumed? The short answer is no. There have been countless studies on the toxicity of poinsettias, thanks to the rumors, and researchers haven’t found a single case of severe reactions or death. Eating an entire poinsettia might upset the stomach but in most recorded cases, the child or pet has only eaten one or two leaves. Even if the whole plant is eaten, no medical treatment is required unless symptoms become severe. This happens in less than 5% of the population—and again, the plant still won’t kill anyone.

There’s no problem with keeping your poinsettia out of reach but don’t freak out if your dog eats a leaf that fell to the floor. There’s no need to skip out on a holiday tradition because of a fake news story from the year 1919.

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Photo: Rochelle Hartman (cc)

Sources: sciencedirect.com, snopes, jamanetwork.com, renatovicario.com

Entry filed under: Around The House, Despite Popular Belief. Tags: , , , , .

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