In addition to the decorated Christmas tree, cookies and almond stollen, candles, Christmas carols and the rustling of wrapping paper, he belongs to the Christmas season, the poinsettia. The decorative houseplant with the bright red leaves is also called Advent star, poinsettia or Christmas star . The botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima indicates its relationship with the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Many spurge plants are poisonous. How poisonous is the poinsettia?

Attractive to children and pets

The poinsettia comes from Mexico. It blooms from November to March, with the flowers hardly being noticeable and less attractive than the brightly colored bracts. For a number of years, poinsettias have also been available in white and yellow in addition to the classic red ones.

The popular houseplant looks beautiful. The contrast between the dark green leaves and the bracts is very decorative.

It quickly happens that cats and dogs nibble on the leaves. The brightly colored bracts are also extremely attractive to small children. Children also have the habit of simply putting interesting things in their mouths.


The plants of the genus Euphorbiaceae stand out because of their white milky sap. The poinsettia also contains the so-called spurge. Every year at Christmas time, notices and calls for caution against spurge plants such as Christ’s thorn, pencil bush, cypress spurge and also the poinsettia increase, as these are poisonous.

It is true that all parts of the decorative poinsettia are poisonous.

These are:

  • root
  • stem
  • green leaves
  • colored bracts
  • blossoms
  • Together

Particular care should be taken with the white milky sap, the milkweed. The reason for this is the toxicity of the terpene ester it contains.


The toxicity of the plant parts of the poinsettia is classified as moderate. The poisoning becomes visible in the following symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal complaints after ingestion of individual parts
  • skin irritation
  • mucosal irritations
  • eye irritation

In most cases, the intake of parts of the spurge plants ends with nausea or stomach problems. Nevertheless, particularly sensitive people and especially small children can react more intensely than others to milkweed.

First aid for young children

If your child put pieces of the poinsettia in their mouth, give them water to drink. If your child reacts to contact with the white milky juice with skin irritation, thorough cleaning with warm water usually helps.

Caution is advised in case of eye irritation from contact with Euphorbia pulcherrima. Quickly rinse the eye thoroughly with clear water. A 10-minute rinse is recommended.

Older children and young people tend to try forbidden things. Try to make your child aware of the consumption of poisonous plants. Again and again young people end up in the emergency room after eating poisonous mushrooms and plants with life-threatening symptoms of poisoning.

Note : Adults should also be careful. Wear gloves when repotting poinsettias or trimming dead leaves. If the parts of the plant are injured, milky sap escapes, which can severely irritate the skin.

First aid for pets

Cats in particular can hardly be stopped from nibbling on indoor plants. Even the Euphorbia pulcherrima is not safe from them and it is precisely this that is dangerous for cats.
If your pet shows the following signs of poisoning:

  • drowsiness
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • heavy salivation
  • Apathy
  • sudden tremor
  • cramps
  • states of shock

you should go to the vet immediately or call an animal emergency number. It is best to take the poinsettia with you to the doctor’s visit so that the veterinarian can estimate the amount consumed.

Smaller pets such as cats, rabbits, chinchillas, hamsters, birds and guinea pigs and young animals are particularly at risk.

Tip: If you have pets, you should avoid putting the poinsettia in the apartment for the safety of your darlings.

New breeds

The toxicity of most poinsettias available on the market can be assessed as low. The poinsettia originally imported from Mexico, which forms the basis for modern breeds, was highly poisonous. In recent years, breeders have successfully reduced the toxicity of new varieties of Euphorbia pulcherrima. However, you should pay attention to the origin when buying poinsettias. A higher toxic effect cannot be ruled out, especially in the case of imported plants from non-European countries.


The poison control centers in Germany are staffed around the clock. An overview of all locations can be found on the Internet. The poison control centers will help you if you notice symptoms of poisoning in your relatives. At the same time you will receive important information on the toxicity of plants as well as instructions for first-aid measures in the event of symptoms of poisoning.

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