We have all heard it a thousand times: poinsettias are extremely dangerous to cats, dogs, and children too!
But is it really true?
Tis the season when poinsettias deck the halls with their brilliant colors. As well as showing up around fireplaces, kitchen tables, and every possible place a little burst of holiday cheer is needed.
But, along with their beauty, there always seems to follow an ominous warning that they can be deadly. To both pets, and humans.
So is it really true?
Are Poinsettias Really Dangerous To Cats, Dogs & Babies?
As it turns out, the dangers of the poinsettia plant, just like many gardening myths, seem to be born more in legend than fact. And although their leaves can cause a few issues when ingested, they are far from deadly.
Poinsettias & Pets
The poinsettia plant does produce a white sap that contains a few chemical compounds. But as a toxin, they are much more on the mild side than anything deadly or dangerous.
Quite simply put, the possibility of a pet having anything more than an upset stomach, or the unpleasant results that come along with it, are highly unlikely.
Should you let your pets eat the leaves at will? Of course not, but rest assured they will not lead to anything deadly.
Are Poinsettias Dangerous To Infants, Small Children & Adults?
So what about infants, small children and even adults? Well, much like with pets, the leaves and blooms of the poinsettia are far from deadly when ingested.
But interestingly enough, it is with a small child where the legend of the dangers of the poinsettia plant are first thought to have begun.
Over a century ago, as the legend goes, a young child was found dead next to a poinsettia plant. And, of course, everyone in the town pointed the finger at the “poisonous” poinsettia as the culprit.
As it turns out, it just simply wasn’t the case. But as legends often do, the curse of the poinsettia plant grew and grew.
In the years that have passed, a lot of research has been done on the plant and its supposed toxicity. And what that research has found is that it is nearly impossible to eat enough leaves to be deadly.
One study even concluded that by consuming even 600 leaves, there was still not enough toxins present to ever be deadly!
To be clear, if the plant is ingested, it can cause everything from an upset stomach, to vomiting and a few unpleasant intestinal issues. And it can also cause skin irritation for both humans and pets when the skin comes in contact with the leaves.
But one thing is for sure, the plants are not killers!
How To Keep Those Poinsettias Alive After Christmas
If you are looking for ways to keep those poinsettias alive and thriving well after the holidays, be sure to check out our Poinsettia Care article on our sister site, This Is My Garden.
Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary
Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. The two are frequent speakers on all things gardening and love to travel in their spare time.
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