The Truth About Poinsettias

We here at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses are just beginning to get into the “spirit” of Christmas as the poinsettias continue to be stuck in the greenhouse at an ever increasing pace. It seemed like a good time to dispel a commonly held misconception about the toxicity of poinsettias that appears to have started way back in 1919 when the tragic death of a child was attributed to the child ingesting poinsettia leaves. The American Society of Florists did extensive research into the matter and eventually the report of the child’s death by poinsettia leaf ingestion was show to be nothing more than hearsay.  

The belief became so ingrained in the consciousness of people that even today the myth persists that the poinsettia plant is poisonous to children and pets so much so that a recent survey of florists found that 66% believed it to be true. The American Society of Florists joined with researchers at the Ohio State University to take an objective and scientific look at whether there was any truth to the belief that poinsettia leaf ingestion was deadly to either children or pets. Their conclusion after giving rather large doses to rats was that there was no toxicity or any other side effects from having ingested the poinsettia leaves. The POISENDEX is the index of poison information used by the majority of poison control centers around the country  and it says that a 50lb child would have to eat more than a pound and a quarter of poinsettia leaves (500-600 leaves) to exceed the dosage that was given to the rats in the Ohio University tests. According to the American Society of Florists no other consumer plant has been tested as extensively as the poinsettia has over the years.  

So as the poinsettia season approaches and you feel the urge to enjoy some poinsettia plants in your home to get into that festive frame of mind do so with the knowledge that you are completely safe.  It just goes to show that once a piece of information has been widely disseminated it is hard to overcome it even with the truth. Spread the word so that everyone can brighten up their home with a beautiful poinsettia during the holiday season.