The Myth of the Poisonous Poinsettia



If you're anything like me you're trying extra hard to wait and celebrate Christmas AFTER Thanksgiving, but boy is it hard!  I LOVE everything about Christmas: decorating the tree, figuring out the perfect gift to make my loved ones smile, singing along to my favorite Christmas music, and the general atmosphere of warmth and goodwill that most people are radiating that manifests itself in a variety of beautiful and heartwarming ways.  Another symbol of Christmas for me is the sight of the thousands of poinsettias that my father grows.  For me, Christmas would just not be complete without this plant which has decorated my home and my heart for my entire life.  

One thing I've been saddened to hear as this season approaches is the myth of the poisonous poinsettia.  Many of you have probably met my 6 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Stella, on a visit to Plant and See, and if you have, you know that she is my baby.  Having said that, there is no one who understands the concern for pets more than I (After seeing a recent report on the danger of Xylitol I immediately called my fiance and demanded that he throw away the chewing gum in his car for fear that our other baby, a red heeler/Australian Cattle Dog, would get into it).  I'm here to tell you the good news!! No one should have to miss out on the beauty of a poinsettia during Christmas!

Poinsettias are NOT poisonous!

Scientists have been researching this for decades, and every study has the same result: Poinsettias, while certainly not considered edible, are not poisonous despite this widespread myth.  Ingestion may cause a stomachache and related symptoms (if a high amount is ingested) but they will not cause fatalities in your pet (or your child for that matter!).  The American Veterinary Medical Association does not include poinsettias on it's list of plants that are a threat to animals and the American Association of Poison Control Centers found that out of 22,793 cases of ingestion in humans, no toxicity was found.  This is not to say that I would ever intentionally let my pet or child eat poinsettias, but that if this were to happen while you are turned away, when you look back to see the mistake, simply correct it and move on with your day, without fear.  

Now,  if my calculations are correct, we can get to decorating in exactly 1 week! (Or earlier, if you want, because why delay your happiness, really!) 

And just in case you're questioning my scientific credentials, here is a link with more information and a list of scientific sources: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/newsletters/hortupdate/hortupdate_archives/2003/nov03/No.html

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll!