The Great Poinsettia Debate

Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

The poinsettia was first introduced to the United States in 1828 and came from Mexico.

Ever since we posted Tuesday’s Holiday Tip on our Facebook page, “Holiday decorating with plants might be ‘green,’ but the following festive plants are dangerous for dogs and cats: holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia,” some people have been having a good natured debate, citing urban legend, as to the viability of the toxicity of poinsettias. And short of sending our question to Mythbusters, we decided to do some research. What we found is a little surprising.

According to and other flower myth debunking sites, the poisonous poinsettia story began in 1919, when, “nearly 80 years ago an Army officer’s 2-year old child died after allegedly eating a poinsettia leaf, the myth of the poisonous poinsettia was born. Though the story was later determined to be hearsay, nearly 66% of those participating in a 1995 Society of American Florists poll still believed poinsettias to be toxic if eaten.

“Abundant evidence exists to debunk the myth, however. Researchers at the Ohio State University, working in conjunction with the SAF, tested the effects of ingesting unusually high doses of the leaves, stems, and sap from the poinsettias and found the plant to be nontoxic.”

We also found a PR release from the Ohio State University study that states, “Poinsettias have long been a colorful holiday tradition, but their cheerful image has been sullied somewhat by fears that children or others may be at risk if they accidentally eat parts of the plant.”

Protect your loved ones. Monitor furry family members during the holidays.

Ok. They say humans, but they don’t say dogs. Or cats, either. So where does that leave us?

Let’s Get Technical

We know you have to get back to work, so we will make this quick! The poinsettia plant is also called Euphorbia pulcherrima. Wikipedia says that anyone with an allergic reaction to latex could also be allergic to the plant and that the plant may cause vomiting and mild diarrhea, if eaten in mass quantity.

We bet more pets have been seen at the pet hospitals during the holidays for consuming ribbon, bows, foils… especially cats, which are attracted to curling ribbon and can suffocate on it. If it could be dangerous around unmonitored pets, why risk it?

So what to do about it?

Taking time to protect your four legged best friends ensures everyone’s holiday will be bright.

Whether you have a bubbly puppy, silly kitten, happy dog, or frisky cat around the home, we encourage pet parents to monitor their furry loved ones around all manner of holiday things that might harm them: presents, food, lights, ribbons, wrapping paper, plants, among other things. Put plants, like poinsettias, and human goodies, out of Fido and Kitty’s reach. Store ribbon and wrapping paper in closets or in cupboards. Unplug holiday lights if you leave the room. If distracting company comes over (and let’s face it, it happens!), make a special place for your pets in a quiet and out-of-the-way bedroom with food, water, and a comfortable sleeping place.

With these tips, we hope, everyone will stay informed, safe and happy through the holidays this year.


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