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Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

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Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

Pity the poor poinsettia. All it ever wanted was to be a nice emblem for the holidays: To be patiently wrapped in red foil and hoisted on hostesses, to festoon festive Christmas sweaters, and to be eternally mimicked in plastic. But somewhere along the way it picked up a bad-girl reputation as a lethal beauty; lovely to look at, and terribly toxic if tasted!

But, are the rumors true? Are pretty poinsettias potentially poisonous? About 70 percent of the population will answer yes, and although every year there is a bumper crop of stories explaining otherwise–the myth persists. And myth it is. Poinsettia’s are not poisonous, merely the victim of a popularly enduring urban legend.

It all started back in the early part of the 20th century when the young child of a U.S. Army officer was alleged to have died from consuming a poinsettia leaf–a story which was later retracted. But as these things have a habit of doing, the toxic potential of the poinsettia took on a life of its own; now many people treat poinsettias as persona non grata (or, poinsettia non grata, as the case may be) in their households.

According to the American Medical Association’s Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no ill effect. And other experts have weighed in as well.

The Society of American Florists (SAF) worked with the Academic Faculty of Entomology at Ohio State University (OSU) to thoroughly test all parts of the poinsettia and conclusively established that there were no adverse effects; and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission  denied a petition in 1975 to require warning labels for poinsettia plants.

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Read more: Christmas, Family, General Health, Green Home Decor, Health, Health & Safety, Lawns & Gardens, News & Issues, Safety, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

128 comments

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7:41AM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

ty

7:41AM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

ty

5:22AM PST on Dec 14, 2012

Thanks.

3:48PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

ty

8:56AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

1:19AM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Thank you :)

1:40AM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thank you

4:50PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

thanks

12:49AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

Thanks for the info. It sounds the we should mind about mistletoe but not Ponsiettas.

6:23AM PST on Dec 21, 2010

nice pic!

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