Medical Misconception: Poisonous Poinsettias

Each month we set the facts straight regarding a popular health and wellness myth.

This month’s misconception: Poinsettias are poisonous.

Holiday decorations play a big part in what makes this time of year so special, and poinsettias are often one of the staples of the season. For years, we’ve been told that poinsettias are poisonous to people and pets … but is that really the case?

In a word: No.

In an interview with the United States Department of Agriculture, Kansas State University Extension Horticulture Expert Ward Upham explained that the plant is not poisonous to children or pets. He said research has shown that a 50-pound child would have to eat 500 to 600 leaves to feel any discomfort.

In 1975, the Consumer Product Safety Commission denied the request to put warning labels on poinsettias and mistletoe sprigs identifying them as poisonous. According to the commission’s website, “The Commission’s review of the technical literature dealing with the toxicity of these plants did not disclose a degree of risk that would warrant its taking regulatory action.”

However, the commission explained that the denial of the petition should not be “…construed as endorsement of the complete safety of these plants,” and recommended keeping them away from small children.

So decorate with poinsettias to your heart’s content this season!


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