The poinsettia is a classic in the Advent season. Still, many parents and pet owners wonder whether the plant is poisonous or not. We explain if there is really any danger to children or pets like cats and dogs.
Are poinsettias really as poisonous to people and their beloved pets like cats and dogs as many claims, or is it just scaremongering? Opinions are divided on this subject. Anyone looking for the answer to this question on the Internet will find many contradicting articles and opinions there. On the one hand, one reads that poinsettias are highly poisonous for children and animals and that the plants, therefore, have no place in an animal or children’s household. The opposite is the case in the next article. After doing online research, you are usually no smarter than you were before. But what is right? Is the poinsettia poisonous or not?
The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to the milkweed family, which contains a toxic milky sap. Contact with this can cause skin irritation. After consuming parts of the plant, you can expect stomach pain, nausea, and nausea. Severe courses can occur in children and pets. The concentration of toxins is lower in the hybrids.
Is the poinsettia poisonous?
The fact is: The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) and, like all species of the genus spurge, contains a whitish milky sap (latex), which escapes when the plants are damaged. This milky sap is used by the milkweed family to close wounds and protect them from eating – and contains substances that irritate the skin, especially diterpenes from the terpene group. The wild form of poinsettia is known for its high concentration of these substances. The commercially available poinsettia hybrids, on the other hand, are described as hardly poisonous because they only contain small traces of diterpenes.
Newer cultivars of the poinsettia are said to contain less toxic substances than the wild form
Skin irritation from the milky sap of the poinsettia
Contact with the poisonous poinsettia poisonous sap can cause irritation of the skin and mucous membranes. For insensitive people, the milky sap can cause redness, swelling, itching, and allergic reactions. When caring for the plants, whether when repotting or cutting the poinsettia, wear gloves as a precaution and avoid any contact with the eyes. You should rinse affected areas immediately with clear water.
Poinsettia: possible poisoning in children
Although poinsettia is generally described as slightly poisonous when children consume parts of the plant, symptoms similar to poisoning can occur in the form of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In rare cases, drowsiness and drowsiness occur. Do you suspect that there is poisoning? Then act immediately: rinse your mouth with water and give plenty of water to drink. Do not induce vomiting, but seek medical advice and help, for example at the poison information center (better known as the poison control center).
Is poinsettia poisonous to cats and dogs?
Severe courses can also occur in cats, dogs, and other small pets such as rabbits, birds, or hamsters that come into contact with poinsettia poison. They are much smaller than humans and are accordingly more sensitive to toxic substances. All parts of the poinsettia plant are also poisonous for pets. If it is consumed, a visit to the vet is inevitable. As for other poisonous houseplants, the same applies to the poinsettia if a toddler or animal lives in the household: It is better to do without the plant to avoid such incidents – whether skin irritation or even poisoning.
Kornelia Friedenauer is the managing editor responsible for the magazine "GARDEN PLANT". She holds a degree in landscape architecture and completed a traineeship at a trade journal after graduating. She has been an editor on the Crown-Times team since August 2020. Her main topics are ornamental gardens, design, and DIY. In her private life, too, she is a gardener with heart and soul and tries out many new horticultural and creative ideas in her own garden.