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Poisonous Poinsettias?

December's traditional flower, the Poinsettia, gets a bad rap. Every year, countless news stories catution consumers about the toxicity of poinsettias to animals, children, adults. As a florist, and purveyor of gorgeous NJ grown poinsettias, I talk to customers each day and relay the truth - that poinsettias indeed are not any more poisonous than most household plants, that their bad reputation is merely a myth.

 In fact the Society of American Florists states:

Despite years of education efforts, many consumers still mistakenly believe that the poinsettia plant is toxic to children and/or pets. This myth is often propagated by media stores during the winter holidays. Year after year SAF works very hard to dispel the long-standing myth regarding poinsettia toxicity. The poinsettia is the most widely tested plant on the market, and research has proved the plant is not toxic:

  1. Scientific research from The Ohio State University has proved the poinsettia to be nontoxic to both humans and pets. All parts of the plants were tested, including the leaves and sap.
  2. According to POISINDEX, the national information center for poison control centers, a child would have to ingest 500-600 leaves in order to exceed the experimental doses that found no toxicity.
  3. A study from Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University found that out of 22,793 reported poinsettia exposures there was essentially no toxicity of significance of any kind. The study used data collected by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
  4. As with any nonfood product, however, the poinsettia is not meant to be eaten and can cause varying degrees of discomfort; therefore, the plant should be kept out of the reach of young children and curious pets.


Being a conscientious business owner, and cautious about over-promising anything, I decided to test what has become an industry wide fact -

 I ate a poinsettia.

 Not the whole plant, just a beautiful healthy green leaf and stem. I was cautioned to remember that poinsettias are a natural latex source, and if I had an allergy to latex I would be in big trouble. Thankfully I am not allergic to latex, and I still live and breathe today after consuming the leaf.

Wth all that drippy white sap, I was sure it would be very sour, bitter, horrible tasting, a la Fear Factor. In reality, it was quite dry, lightly bitter, and not bad at all; kind of like fresh spinach (but not as yummy as baby spinach).

So I hope you can rest easy in your purchases of these stunning plants - they make wonderful hostess gifts, staff thank you's for all those who help you all year. A thoughtful plant, with its cheery colors, can brighten anyone's holiday, so stop in today - we've got plenty to go around, unless I get really really hungry!



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Published Friday, December 21, 2007 5:10 AM by rosegarden


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