Relax, Poinsettias Are Not Poisonous

PoinsettiaNorthwest Iowa — Some people may be paranoid about having poinsettias in the house as they’ve heard those red-and-green flowers traditionally associated with Christmas can be deadly poisonous if eaten.

Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and the education coordinator for the Iowa Poison Control Center, says that myth is busted.

One study finds a child would have to eat as many as 500 poinsettia leaves to become poisoned, but aside from that, the leaves taste terrible so no one would likely ever eat a lethal dose of them. Still, Noble says you may want to use caution around the plant.

Other plants that may appear in your house during the year-end holidays could pose a more significant threat, according to Noble, and you need to take care with them.

The Sioux City-based Iowa Poison Control Center is available around-the-clock at 800-222-1222. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and dates back centuries to when the Aztecs cultivated them to be more like trees that grew to be ten feet high. Seventeenth-century Franciscan priests in Mexico used poinsettias in nativity processions, the first recorded use for a Christmas celebration, though they weren’t called poinsettias then. That didn’t come until Joel Robert Poinsette introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825 while he was the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. The plants were later named to honor him.