Are poinsettias poisonous to children?
No. Unless children have an allergy, poinsettias are not poisonous, and are only a mild irritant if eaten.
Children with certain allergies, such as latex, avocados, bananas, chestnuts, kiwis and passion fruits, may have an increased chance of being allergic to poinsettias. Still, a child without an allergy would usually have to eat several leaves before even getting an upset stomach. For that reason, medical treatment is not recommended unless a child has a severe reaction.
If a child eats a poinsettia, doctors advise parents to get any parts of the plant out of the child’s mouth and then rinse their mouth. If they get sap from a plant on their skin and it causes a rash, parents should wash that part of their skin with soap and water.
Why do so many people believe poinsettias are poisonous?
This is a very common myth. It’s often attributed to an incident in 1919 when a child in Hawaii was found dead next to wild poinsettia plants, which authorities believe was wrongly attributed to the poinsettias.
Health authorities say there have actually been no documented human deaths due to poinsettias. Nevertheless, surveys have found that more than half of adults falsely believe poinsettias are poisonous.
Why should I trust you?
Our articles are short and direct so parents can quickly get the answers they need, but there’s lengthy research behind everything we publish. If you’d like to check our facts and learn more, here are the best sources we found and used for this article:
- “Are poinsettia plants poisonous?” from Mayo Clinic.
- “Plant and Shrub Poisoning,” from Merck Manuals.
- “Poinsettia Plant: Irritating but Not Fatal,” from Poison Control.
- “Is Poinsettia Really Poisonous?” from WebMD.
- “Poisonous Poinsettias,” from Snopes.
- “Holiday Plants with Toxic Misconceptions,” from Western Journal of Emergency Medicine.