This is one of those beliefs that is so widespread that a survey of
florists found that most of them believed it to be true. That's
because it has been the conventional understanding about poinsettias
for many years.
The consensus of government agencies, health centers, veterinary
groups, and plant and
flower organizations that we've surveyed, however, is that poinsettias are not
toxic and do not pose a health threat to children or pets.
The belief in poinsettia poison appears to extend back to 1919 when
the two-year-old child of a U.S. Army officer died. It was
believed that the death was caused by the child ingesting 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 the
report was later determined to be hearsay.
The America Society of Florists joined with researchers at Ohio
State University to test various parts of the poinsettia plant on
rats. Their conclusion was that there was no toxicity or any
other side effects even when the rats were given large
POISENDEX is the source of poison information for the majority of poison
control centers. It says that a 50-pound child would have to
eat more than a pound-and-a-quarter of poinsettia leaves to exceed
the doses used in the Ohio State research, which would be 500 to 600
The American Society of Florists says no other consumer plant has
been tested for toxicity more than the poinsettia.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Center in Urbana, Illinois says it regards
poinsettias as having such low toxicity risk that it doesn't even
recommend decontaminating animals that may have ingested them.
The center says that there can sometimes be gastrointestinal
distress from having ingested something alien to the digestive