Poinsettia plants, commonly used during the holidays, are not poisonous. In most cases, eating this plant does not result in a trip to the hospital.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Leaves, stem, sap of the poinsettia plant
Poinsettia plant exposure can affect many parts of the body.
EYES (IF DIRECT CONTACT OCCURS)
STOMACH AND INTESTINES (SYMPTOMS ARE MILD)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach ache
- Skin rash and itching
Take the following steps if a person is exposed to the plant.
- Rinse the mouth out with water if leaves or stems were eaten.
- Rinse eyes with water, if needed.
- Wash the skin of any area that appears irritated with soap and water.
Before Calling Emergency
Seek medical help if the person has a severe reaction.
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does not need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The provider will measure and monitor person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as needed.
How well the person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster the person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
This plant is not considered toxic. People most often make a full recovery.
DO NOT touch or eat any unfamiliar plant. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.
Christmas flower poisoning; Lobster plant poisoning; Painted leaf poisoning
Auerbach PS. Wild plant and mushroom poisoning. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:374-404.
Lim CS, Aks SE. Plants, mushrooms, and herbal medications. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 158.
McGovern TW. Dermatoses due to plants. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 17.
Ryan ET, Hill DR, Solomon T, Aronson NE, Endy TP. Poisonous plants and aquatic animals. In: Ryan ET, Hill DR, Solomon T, Aronson NE, Endy TP, eds. Hunter's Tropical Medicine and Emerging Infectious Diseases. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 139.
Review Date 11/13/2021
Updated by: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.