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Re: Poinsettias

Albert F. Limberg wrote:
> Let us put an end to this myth once and for all.

> * According to the American Medical Association's Handbook of Poisonous
> and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion
> of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no effect.

> Another group, widely known for its interest in home and child safety,
> the NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL, has been trying to dispel this myth since
> the mid-1960s.  I know. I was there.

I think it is sometimes difficult to asses the relative importance of
some of the scientific arguments put forth on a particular subject. In
addition to the AMA handbook referenced above, the Poison and Toxicology
Handbook 1995-1996 published by the American Pharmicology Assoc (or
Society?) lists Poinsettias as containing a toxic substance. The
question, as is often the case, is how much does it take to make someone
sick. Eating a few poinsettia leaves may not do much more than give you
an upset stomach. Getting a enough of the toxic substance they contain
can make you very ill.

Part of the problem is that some substances that are not harmful to
humans are *more* toxic to animals (which is where this discussion
started). For instance, chocolate, or more specifically the caffine like
substances in chocolate, while having some *desired* effects or people
are much more toxic to dogs and cats (rapid heartbeat, over heating). 

According to the Pharmacology Department at the University of California
Veterinary School, poinsettias are toxic to animals, more so than to
humans. Deadly??? Probably not, at least not anywhere as much as some
other plants (like oleander). 

Why anyone (or animal) would want to eat a bitter, awful tasting
poinsettia leaf is beyond me anyway.... 

John                     | "There be dragons here"
                         |  Annotation used by ancient cartographers
                         |  to indicate the edge of the known world.

John Jones, jijones@ix.netcom.com
Fremont CA, USDA zone 8/9 (coastal, bay) 
Max high 95F/35C, Min Low 28F/-2C average 10 days each
Heavy clay base for my raised beds.

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