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Poinsettia Facts and Myths

Despite its popularity, the poinsettia plant has a reputation as a poisonous plant. A recent poll of 1,000 Americans found that 50 percent of those polled believed poinsettias are toxic if eaten. In actuality, the poinsettia is the most widely tested consumer plant on the market today, which has allowed expert to dispel common myths about the plant.

- Ohio State University conducted tests on all parts of the plant, including the leaves and sap. Researchers there concluded that the poinsettia is non-toxic to both humans and pets. - POISINDEX, the national information center for poison control centers, has issued guidelines indicating that a child would have to ingest over 500 leaves, or 1.25 pounds, in order to exceed any previously measured toxic doses.

- Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, analyzed data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. They concluded that out of 22,793 reported exposure to poinsettia plants of varying degrees, there were no reports of toxicity of any significance.

- In 1975, the Consumer Products Safety Commission was presented with a petition asking that warning labels be placed on all poinsettia plants sold. After investigating the medical research, the Commission denied the petition, citing lack of substantial evidence of the toxicity of poinsettia plants.

Although it hasn't been shown to be toxic, poinsettia plants still should not be eaten. For some people, especially children, ingesting the leaves can cause discomfort. The milky white sap of this plant is also irritating to the skin, so be sure to wash your hands if there is any exposure to this liquid. Those allergic to latex may also find that their skin is irritated by contact with the plant, as poinsettias belong to the plant family that is associated with latex.

It’s always fun to learn something new! At the Presbyterian Apartments I & II in Northport, Alabama, we love to provide you with fun, thought-provoking facts that will make you reflect on different aspects of life.

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