Poinsettia caution

Poinsettia

Q. Are poinsettia plants poisonous?

A.The term "poisonous plants" is often associated with plants that may cause great harm or be fatal if ingested. Potential poisoning depends on the level of toxins contained in the plant and the amount consumed.

The latex in some species of plants in the Poinsettia genus (Euphorbia) is poisonous when ingested and can cause contact dermatitis when exposed to skin. The popular Christmas poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, may cause mild stomach upset when ingested, but does not contain irritant substances that can cause contact dermatitis. However, frequent contact with the latex sap of poinsettia plants may cause mild, short-lasting skin irritation.

Plant toxicity is often measured by a quantitative amount of material ingested. Care should always be taken when plants of any type are located in areas with children or pets. When in doubt, immediately contact a physician or poison control center.