How often have you heard Poinsettias are deadly poisonous and claim the lives of children and pets every year? I hear this often when my customers are interested in purchasing a plant as a Christmas gift. Usually they say - What do you have besides poinsettias? My friend has pets (or children). This is a myth that has been so wide spread for decades that even some florists believe it to be true. Luckily for us and our pets, it's not true.
The origin of the myth dates back to 1919 when a 2 year old child of a US Army officer stationed in Hawaii passed away suddenly. It was believed that the child ingested poinsettia leaves. The American Society of Florists has looked into the matter extensively and says there was never any proof that poinsettia leaves were responsible for the child's death and has been determined hearsay. Since that non poinsettia death in 1919, there haven't been any real ones either. And no wonder, it would take a 50 lb child to ingest over 1.25 lbs of poinsettia bracts (500-600 leave) to exceed the experimental dose according to POISINDEX information services. (POISINDEX is the primary resource used by most poison control centers.) If a child or pet were to try to ingest the leaves they may end up with a tummy ache, mainly because they are ingesting something foreign into their digestive system. Though this is highly unlikely, as the taste is described as horrible.
Now that you know the truth, don't be afraid to fill your home with these beautiful Christmas plants!