We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Are Poinsettias Actually Poisonous?

A poinsettia sits nexts to a stack of packages on a wooden table.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

When you think of Christmas plants, your brain probably goes straight to trees, right? That’s understandable. For others, though, nothing says Chrismas like a poinsettia, but do these bright red blooms have an unfair reputation?

Poinsettias are often said to be poisonous, but are they really? As it turns out, no.

While there’s a lot of chatter out there that poinsettias are poisonous, the plant actually isn’t toxic. That doesn’t mean you’ll want to chow down, though, and ingesting poinsettia leaves and flowers can cause issues.

Dr. Lisa Murphy, associate professor of toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, spoke with Better Homes and Gardens regarding the plant and explained that they possess an irritating sap that can cause skin issues as well as stomach upset. However, unless there’s some sort of outlying allergy, the plant shouldn’t cause long-term issues.

But that doesn’t mean you should just leave your poinsettia on the floor where your cat, dog, or small child can have a nice, floral snack. Murphy added that if a pet ingests the flower, they could experience loss of appetite, vomiting, or even diarrhea. Typically, these symptoms resolve in about 12 hours, but for pets with underlying conditions, it could take longer and they might need medical intervention.

As for kids, the sap might cause a skin rash, and it could cause some of the same stomach upset issues as with pets. In general, however, it shouldn’t be a huge cause for concern unless you begin to see other more severe symptoms or issues persist for longer than 12 hours.

So, if you want to use poinsettias for your holiday decorating, go for it. But you should still maybe keep them out of the reach of children and pets just to be extra safe.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on a single goal: helping you make the most informed purchases possible. Want to know more?