As a young boy in Waynesboro, I truly considered the place a Tom Sawyer style paradise. I had many huckleberry friends. We enjoyed numerous swimming holes, later slumbering under the short leaf pine thickets and even later fishing the Chickasawhey River. We felt the warm feeling and loving embrace of our churches. We loved Davis' drug store on the street corner with the fountain cherry cokes and cold creamy strawberry milk-shakes, little-league baseball, Pee-Wee football, Lash LaRue and Roy Rogers - a great time and place to be a boy.
The deep South also offered, such wonderful and wondrous boyish things; such as, bugs, spiders and snakes. I remember my parents teaching me how to identify and watch out for poisonous things; eg, black-widow or brown recluse spiders, cotton mouth or water moccasins, rattle snakes and such.
Mom would also tell me what plants I should not eat. I learned to never eat mushrooms picked in the woods behind our house. She said that some were poison and they could kill me. She taught me to never eat the red berries from a holly bush and the leaves from a poinsettia plant because they were poison and would kill me if ingested.
Hold it. Wait a minute. The wonderful beautiful poinsettias - are they truly poison? Was mom's claim true that the toxic plant could kill me as well as my dog?
The fact is that Mom would not even keep poinsettias in our home during the Christmas holidays. I guess she was afraid that her foolish son and his slightly more intelligent dog would eat them. Could she have been wrong about the toxicity of the poinsettia?
I'm afraid the answer is yes - she was wrong! The plant is not toxic.
The persistent claim that the poinsettia is toxic just isn't true . It is fiction. My mom was wrong but she was not alone. Even today, if you ask most florists, they will tell you that they are toxic. The myth seems to have a life of its own and just will not die.
Ingestion of the plant will not kill you but there is a good chance it will make you sick. There are chemicals in the plant that if ingested in large quantities, may very well give you an upset stomach. There's also a possibility of other chemicals sprayed on the poinsettia or any type plant that could be toxic. For these reason, a young child or pet should never be allow to eat or place any house plant in their mouth. Otherwise, keep them in your home and enjoy one of God's most beautiful creation - The Poinsettia, (Flor de la Noche buena) (Flower of the Holy Night).