UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Toxic Holiday Plants

Keywords: holly, berry, poinsettia, mistletoe, berries (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/2/2010 by Ellen Lemkin, MD, PharmD
Click here to contact Ellen Lemkin, MD, PharmD

Toxic Holiday Plants

Of the three plants listed, which is NOT poisonous?

1.     Holly plant

2.     Poinsettia

3.     Mistletoe


Poinsettia plants were once thought to be very poisonous. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are safe to have in the home during the holidays.

Although there are reported cases of death with ingestion of Holly plants in older literature, recent experience shows gastrointestinal effects in small doses, and serious toxicity such as CNS depression in large ingestions.

Mistletoe ingestion of few of the berries would, at most, produce mild gastroenteritis; however, ingesting concentrated extracts of the plant, including the berries, may produce serious effects such as seizures, mental confusion, drowsiness, and hallucinations.

Happy holidays!