Fun fact: today — December 12 — is National Poinsettia Day!
Like Christmas music on the radio and sappy TV specials, these vibrant plants signal that the holiday season has arrived. This time of year, bright red poinsettias appear in store windows, home décor, and festive displays of all kinds.
Despite being synonymous with chilly December temperatures, more than half of the world's poinsettias are grown in sunny southern California. While poinsettias look like flowers, they are actually modified leaves, which, due to their star shape, are also known as Christmas Stars. Though red is by far the most common color for poinsettias, these beautiful plants are available in more than 100 varieties, including white, pink, and speckled.
Many people worry that poinsettias are poisonous, but these rumors are way overhyped. In reality, their toxicity is very, very low. According to POISINDEX, a system used by poison control centers across the country, a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia leaves to even potentially ingest a dangerous dose. Plus, poinsettias don't taste very good, so it's unlikely that someone who eats a leaf by mistake would go back for more. If a child or pet (or curious adult…) does ingest a poinsettia they'll most likely be fine, but it's best to call poison control just to be safe.