Sometimes in nature, beauty and danger go hand in hand in both animals and plants. Take for instance the Poison Dart Frog. It looks so friendly with its bright yellow color, you can’t help but want to reclaim your youth and play with the little frog. But just touching this frog can cause paralysis from the poison that lies within its innocent looking skin. Or consider the Blue Ringed Octopus. It’s tiny yet vibrant. But I wouldn’t suggest adding it to your salt water tank. For a specimen that doesn’t grow much larger than 8 inches, its venom can kill a human, and currently there is no anti-venom available. And then you have plant life, like the Lily of the Valley. Oh sure it looks sweet with its soft white bell blooms and elegant green stems, but hidden in its delicate frame are 38 different cardiac glycocides that are highly poisonous. Brugmansia or Angel’s Trumpet may sound heavenly, but if ingested the level of poison that flows thru its stems could result in death. And Poinsettias can kill your pets… What??? Actually, that one is just a myth.
Now I know, you’ve been told all your life that Poinsettias are poisonous by teachers, medical books, doctors and even veterinarians, and you have a firm belief that such a dangerous flower should be placed high on shelves where pets and children can’t reach them. But as science has grown and advanced over the years, we now know it was just a false alarm. Poinsettias are in fact not poisonous. According to the Madison Poison Control Center, a 50 pound child would have to eat 500 to 600 poinsettia leaves to suffer any significant ill effects. Now, I know children like colorful foods like jelly beans and starburst, but I’m pretty sure after just one leaf your child won’t be reaching for any more. And a pet that occasionally munches on a leaf or two won’t suffer any harmful side effects. Of course this doesn’t mean the poinsettia is edible either. I’ve read one study where the person brave enough to eat the poinsettia leaf described it as horribly bitter. So I wouldn’t recommend making a holiday salad out of its vibrant leaves any time soon.
I would however recommend you decorate with the Poinsettias to your heart’s content. Take them off the shelf. It’s safe, I promise. Use them for a festive Christmas centerpiece. Flank the fireplace or Christmas tree with them. Give them as gifts to friends, Secret Santas, teachers, and neighbors. And just enjoy their beauty this Holiday season. After all the Poinsettia is the traditional Christmas flower.