According to an article in the Dec. 13th issue of Farm and Dairy, poinsettias are not toxic to animals and other living things. In fact, the article states that humans are far more likely to harm a poinsettias than vice versa. However, if exposed to it, the milky sap has been known to cause skin irritation to some folks, according to Ward Upham, who heads the Master Gardener program at Kansaas Sate Research and Extension. The biggest risk is in the fact that the leaves are very fibrous, so they could result in choking if someone got them lodged in their throat. Odds are against that happening because the leaves are said to have a terribly bad taste. Upham also goes on to say that the American Medical Association has never received a confirmed report of any serious or fatal results stemming from poinsettia ingestion. He also cites a study at OSU which found that if a child of fifty pounds ate 500 poinsettia bracts (the leaves that look like flowers), said child might develop a slight stomach ache.
So, all you folks who have feared poinsettias in your home over the holiday season can rest a little easier now. Having poinsettias around the holidays as well as having two housecats has never been a problem for us anyhow since my cats have never had a hankering to bother the plants, but it’s good to know that if they did, I have little if anything to worry about.