An Undeserved Blooming Reputation

A collection of poinsettias in various colours.

There are few things I know for sure. And now, after reading a newsletter from my local garden centre, there’s one less thing.

Poinsettias are not poisonous after all. This doesn’t mean you should grab your Christmas flower by the stems and start snacking. But it’s been a persistent myth forever that poinsettias are toxic and according to info from the Society of American Florists, it’s simply not true.

Scientific research from The Ohio State University has proved the poinsettia to be non-toxic. All parts of the plant were tested, including the leaves and sap.

Society of American Florists

The research determined a child would have to eat 500-600 leaves for the plant to create enough toxicity to cause concern. Parents know the challenge of getting kids to eat their greens! It’s pretty clear that overeating poinsettias won’t be an issue.

So, does that mean you keep your poinsettia at pet curiosity level? Probably not. Keeping it out of reach is still a good idea. Eating plants, even non-toxic ones, can still upset their tummies and make them sick. But it won’t poison them.

A poinsettia only lives here if someone gives it to us. I don’t dislike them but they’re not my favourite plant. Back in my early days of radio, I routinely mispronounced the name. Instead of poin-sett-ee-ya I’d say poin-setta. I picked that up somewhere and thought it was how it was said. A commercial producer in Wingham took it too far when he corrected me. He recorded me practicing the word phonetically, sounding it out, and put it in a commercial that ran for the entire Christmas season! So, whenever I see one, I hear myself saying “poin-sett-ee-ya” over the airwaves and shudder, even this many years later!

However, if you bring me one, I’ll accept it with grace and do my best to keep it alive. They’re the most popular potted plant on the continent and they’ve been that way for a couple of centuries. And today, we’re righting a wrong about this plant’s reputation. It’s not toxic! But it does have too many syllables.

6 thoughts on “An Undeserved Blooming Reputation”

  1. A few years back I asked my cat’s Veterinarian specifically about poinsettias and cats. Dr A’s reply was the same as your info, my cat would have to eat a whole lot of the poinsettia to do harm but wise to keep it away from her.

  2. Oh wow! Who knew. Thanks for that info.

    (Been quite a whirlwind in my life lately. Just catching up with all what I missed from you. And I mean missed not just missed ❤️)

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