What to Read Next

Are poinsettias really dangerous? The holiday flower dissected

Lia Grainger
Shine On
December 6, 2012

It's barely December, and already it seems every office hallway and condo foyer is decked out in the finest trimmings of the holiday season. That means tinsel, evergreens, and of course, the ubiquitous poinsettia plant.

Likely you've been warned at some point or another that the red pointy-leaved plant is toxic and can be poisonous to pets and children if ingested. This holiday season, Bell Canada went so far as to ban the festive plants from their Toronto headquarters because a single employee reported a severe poinsettia allergy.

So how dangerous are these plants? As it turns out, not very.

Also see: Six food and medication combinations to avoid

"While they can be considered toxic plants, when compared to other indoor ornamental plants, it is just a mild one," says Mihai Costea, a botanist at Wilfrid Laurier University.

According to the Government of Canada's publicly available database of poisonous plants, the leafy plant has been listed as a toxic plant based on a single death of a child in Hawaii in 1919. Apparently the young girl was found dead holding a poinsettia leaf in her hand, and that was enough evidence to damn the plant for decades to come.

Subsequent tests have found no convincing evidence of the plant's toxicity to humans or animals. In extensive studies on rats, animals fed "extraordinary" amounts of poinsettia suffered literally no ill effects.

However, there was one report of an old dog that ate poinsettia, vomited, went into a coma and died, and that is the only report of an animal death as a result of poinsettia ingestion.

The government guide states in no uncertain terms that "Poinsettia should no longer be regarded as a severely toxic plant."

The fact that poinsettias pose no serious threat to infants, adults or pets is easy to uncover — a simple google search will reveal the phrase "poinsettia plants are not poisonous" on numerous reputable websites.

Also see: A gym that caters exclusively to the overweight

The literature does indicate that some humans may have an allergy to the latex in the plant which can result in dermatitis, but according to Costea, "If the latex inside the Poinsettia plant does not get into contact with the skin of the person susceptible to have a serious allergic reaction, nothing can happen."

It's a statement that certainly makes the Bell ban on poinsettias seem like overkill.

So why does the myth persist? Perhaps because, as pretty as poinsettias are, there is such an abundance of Christmassy decorative options, that consumers would rather forgo the harmless plant for a few sprigs of a less notorious evergreen, just in case.

"There are other plants cultivated indoors or used as cut flowers that are more toxic," says Costea. "Companies are trying to avoid liabilities, but the result is sometimes absurd. If companies would want to avoid all the possible allergens around us, they would have to force people to work in space-suits."

So go ahead and get that poinsettia this holiday season, and feel good about skipping the space suit.

Shop Deals on Over 100 Million items at Sears®

Save On Top Brands and Shop Everything From Appliances, Apparel, Lawn and Garden, Tools and more. 1 store – Over 100 million items. It’s all at Sears!

Only 6 Homesites Remain at Stafford Landing!

Don’t miss your chance to own a brand-new, affordable, single-family Ryan home in this charming Fredericksburg community. Priced from the $300s.

Bad News For Insurance, Great News For Virginia

Virginia drivers, with cars and good driving records are learning that they may qualify for lower car insurance rates. Do you qualify?

Why You Should Pay Attention to Free Sample Sites

Sign up now for freebies so good you will feel guilty not paying for them! No credit card or purchase necessary.

Goodyear® Tire Buying Tips

Goodyear® will help you find the right tires for your vehicle. Browse our tire catalog, view offers, find a store, or use our tire selector.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

Motorcycle Tech Training

At MMI, you ll get the advanced skills that top manufacturers need. MMI graduates are in high demand by employers nationwide. Click to learn more.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

10 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.