Contrary to popular belief, they are not poisonous to humans, pets or children. I was surprised to read this, always having heard that we couldn’t have the plant in the house because of our house pets. Well, those days are over – this was disproven sometime in the 70s. Apparently, a child died in the early 20th century and they had attributed the cause to eating a poinsettia leaf and the poisonous theory stuck around for years afterwards. After deeper investigation many years later, it was discovered that eating the leaves of the plant may give someone a stomach ache but that’s all. A 50 lb. child would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia leaves to even begin approaching poisonous levels. That’s a lot of leaves. Further, the taste of the leaves is reportedly very unpleasant which would make ingesting 500 of them very unlikely.
But don’t take it from me – there was a study: “Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Poison Center conducted a review of 22,793 reported cases of poinsettia exposures, the majority (93%) of which occurred in children, and found that 92% of those exposed did not develop any symptoms at all. Ninety-six per cent of those exposed were not even treated in a health care facility.”
If we wanted to worry about anything relating to poinsettias, it would be a possible skin rash or skin reaction from coming into contact with the milky white sap. Staying away from that and washing your hands after touching it will prevent that issue.
I also didn’t know how complicated it was to try to keep your poinsettia plant until the following season. Read about that tedious process here.