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How poisonous is the poinsettia?

Are poinsettias really as poisonous to people and their beloved pets like cats and dogs as many claim, 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 extremely poisonous for children and animals and that the plants therefore have no place in an animal or children's household. The opposite is stated in the next article. After doing an online research, you are usually no smarter than you were before. But what is right? Is the poinsettia poisonous or not?

Poisonous poinsettia: the essentials in brief

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to the milkweed family that contain 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.

Listen now and get expert tips on caring for poinsettias

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Is the poinsettia poisonous?

The fact is: The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to the milkweed family (Euphorbiaceae) and, like all species of the genus Spurge, contains a whitish milky sap (latex) that 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 the 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.

Skin irritation from the milky sap of the poinsettia

Contact with the poisonous milk sap of the poinsettia can cause irritation of the skin and mucous membranes. In sensitive 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 contact with the eyes at all costs. You should rinse affected areas immediately with clear water.

Poinsettia: possible poisoning in children

Although the poinsettia is described as slightly poisonous overall, when children consume parts of the plant, symptoms similar to poisoning can occur in the form of stomach 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 the 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 with other poisonous houseplants, the following applies to the poinsettia if a toddler or animal lives in the household: It is better to do without the plant in order to avoid such incidents - whether skin irritation or even poisoning.

Christmas without a poinsettia on the windowsill? Unimaginable for many plant lovers! However, one or the other has had rather bad experiences with the tropical milkweed species. MEIN SCHÖNER GARTEN editor Dieke van Dieken names three common mistakes when handling the poinsettia - and explains how you can avoid them
Credits: MSG / CreativeUnit / Camera + Editing: Fabian Heckle