Forget Myth: Poinsettias are Not Poisonous to Humans, Pets

By University of Mo. Extension

First posted on 12-23-2014

Go ahead and enjoy poinsettias this winter and forget about the myth of them being poisonous according to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“While poinsettias are not good for you and have a horribly bitter taste, the poinsettia is not poisonous to humans or pets,” said Byers. “Most pets or children, if they ever tried a leaf, would spit it out and go no further.”

If a new puppy got overzealous and ate most of the leaves on a plant, it would probably get a stomach ache and throw it all back up, according to Byers, but the plant is not deadly.

Research conducted by Ohio State University found ingesting large amounts of any part of the plant to be non-toxic.

The American Medical Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants states that ingestion of the poinsettia plant may produce vomiting but no toxic effects.

POISINDEX (the resource used by U.S. poison control centers) says that a 50 pound child would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia leaves to exceed the experimental doses.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that out of 22,793 reported cases of eating poinsettia leaves in 1995, no significant toxicity was found.

In case you are interested, here is a list of some plants that are generally considered to be hazardous to your pet’s health: aloe, amaryllis, asparagus fern, azalea, caladium, calla lily, castor bean, clematis, elephant ears, English ivy, foxglove, holly, hyacinth, iris, daffodils, onion, lilies, philodendron, rhododendron, schefflera, tulip, yew, yucca.

For more information on this topic, or to ask other lawn or gardening questions, contact the Master Gardeners of Greene County hotline at (417) 881-8909.