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Volume III
December 20, 2013


Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

NOTES FROM FOLKS


Poisonous Poinsettias?



Question: Can you please tell me about the Poinsettia? I always heard they were poisonous.

--Mary C.


Answer:

No flower says Christmas like the beautiful poinsettia. Here are a few facts about this traditional Christmas plant that I LOVE. (I always have several plants in the DVO office and in my home this time of year ☺)

Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima.

Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family ooze a milky sap. Some people with latex allergies have had a skin reaction (most likely to the sap) after touching the leaves. For pets, the poinsettia sap may cause mild irritation or nausea. Probably best to keep pets away from the plant, especially puppies and kittens. (Lots of luck with that!)

Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any harmful effect. Plus poinsettia leaves have an awful taste. You might want to keep your children and pets from snacking on poinsettia leaves. Eating the leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhea. (and besides, if your children are that hungry, you really should feed them dinner! ☺)

The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves).

Poinsettias have also been called the lobster flower and the flame-leaf flower, due to the red color.

Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States from Mexico. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.

In Mexico the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that will grow 10-15 feet tall.

There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today. Poinsettias come in colors like the traditional red, white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled.

The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 70% of all Poinsettias purchased in the United States and does about 50% of the world-wide sales of Poinsettias.

December 12th is Poinsettia Day, which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.

Thank you Mr. Poinsett for introducing us to this beautiful flower and Merry Christmas everyone!!


Sources:
  • http://urbanext.illinois.edu/poinsettia/facts.cfm


Barbara Williams
"Dan's Right Hand"
Creative DVO Employee since 2007


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