UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Holiday Toxicology

Keywords: poinsettia (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/20/2012 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 6/19/2024)
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Myth: The ornamental red plant - poinsettia - gained a reputation as a poisonous plant from a case report. In 1919, a 2-year-old child reportedly died from an ingestion and later an 8-month-old developed mucosal burns.  These anectdotal case reports perpetuated the myth that poinsettia plants are poisonous. In the modern literature there is one single case of anaphylaxis(1) due to poinsettia ingestion/exposure, an allergic dermatitis(2) and one case of dermatitis(4). 

Krenzelok et al.(3) showed there were 22,793 cases of poinsettia exposure and there were no fatalities reported to poison centers. 96.1% were kept at home without sequelae.





  1: Kimata H. Anaphylaxis by poinsettia in infants with atopic eczema. Allergy.  2007 Jan;62(1):91-2.     2: Bala TM, Panda M. No poinsettia this Christmas. South Med J. 2006  Jul;99(7):772-3.    3: Krenzelok EP, Jacobsen TD, Aronis JM. Poinsettia exposures have good  outcomes...just as we thought. Am J Emerg Med. 1996 Nov;14(7):671-4.     4: Edwards N. Local toxicity from a poinsettia plant: a case report. J Pediatr.1983 Mar;102(3):404-5.