Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

The most frequently asked question about poinsettias is whether or not they are poisonous to humans or pets.  The short answer is no, they are not.  There are varying theories as to how this rumor got started, but in any case, it is simply not true.

Poinsettias are members of the Euphorbia family, all of whom possess a milky white sap.  If any problems arise from poinsettias, it is usually caused from this sap which can be irritating on contact. If someone is sensitive, this sap may cause a minor skin irritation, called dermatitis.

As far as ingesting, or eating poinsettias goes, research results done by the University of Ohio in 1971 indicate that poinsettias are not poisonous.  The findings say that for a poinsettia to cause any level of harm to begin, a 50lb child must eat 500 leaves.  Additionally, the milky sap is bitter tasting, so the appeal to eat enough of it to cause illness just isn’t there.

As for the effect poinsettias have on pets, according the Pet Poison Helpline and other sources, the extent of negative outcomes include minor stomach irritation, drooling, and rarely diarrhea.

Interestingly but little known, holly and mistletoe are more dangerous for pets than poinsettias.  And, if anyone is looking for a plant to panic about  — lilies — are toxic to cats — the list of lilies includes: Asiatic lilies, Daylilies, Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, Tiger lilies, Wood lilies, Japanese Show lilies.  Toxic to both cats and dogs are lily of the valley and gloriosa lily.

Related:  9+ Fun Facts About Poinsettias [+A Folk Tale!]

Relax and enjoy your poinsettia!

Listed below are some links to articles with further detailed information:

“Poinsettias Poisonous Reputation Persists, Despite Proof to the Contrary”


“The Myth of the Poisonous Poinsettia”


“Pet Poison Helpline “Poinsettia”


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