Suburban Myths: Poisonous Poinsettias
There are a lot of traditions surrounding the winter holidays. One of the most persistent is the tradition of thinking that poinsettias are poisonous. It’s simply another Suburban Myth – a popularly believed garden-variety fallacy.
Supposedly, the poisonsettia myth started in 1919 when a two-year-old child of an army officer stationed in Hawaii died of poisoning. The cause was incorrectly attributed to a poinsettia leaf.
The fact is no one has ever died from ingesting poinsettia. To disprove this undying myth, members of the Society of American Florists frequently eat poinsettias for the press in December.
I wouldn’t recommend eating poinsettia leaves – they’re bitter. And the white, milky sap of the plant can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
But, according to a book called Poinsettias: Myth & Legend by Christine Anderson & Terry Tischer, you could eat 500 leaves and all you’d get is a mild stomach ache. (Well, plus a really bitter taste in your mouth.)
So, enjoy your holidays and your poinsettia decorations!
(And if you want to worry about poison plants, worry about castor bean, mountain laurel, hydrangea, oleander and even tomato leaves. They’re all a lot more toxic than poinsettias.)
Photo by Frank Vincentz via Wikimedia Commons