Safe to compost Pointsettia?

We had a pointsettia that did poorly in our house (it was too large to put near enough any light source). My husband tossed it in my compost pile without asking me how to dispose of it.
Normally I wouldn't put a poisonous plant in my compost. Now I'm wondering if I should just use the compost on my flower bed and not in the vegetable garden, or if I should fish out the pointsettia? Or is it perfectly fine to use on the garden once it breaks down?
Thanks! Rebecca
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Rebecca Lovelace wrote:

Don't worry about it. The story about poinsettias being "poisonous" is GREATLY exaggerated.
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The "Poinsettia" is poisonous but more to the tune of being toxic but not deadly. Ingesting parts of the plant will give you a tummy ache and make you vomit but it won't kill you outright.
People put poisonous plants in their compost piles all the time, they just don't realize it.

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Thanks, all. I don't usually have pointsettias so I wasn't sure how toxic they were, only that you need to be careful if you have plant-eating pets. Rebecca
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On 15 Feb 2004 04:31:58 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Rebecca Lovelace) opined:

Actually, poinsettia (not poinTsettia) is listed as poisonous because its sap can give you a rash. I don't know that eating it will kill anyone. The list of plants on the poison list can be anything from a mild rash causing sap to deadly castor beans.
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they ARE a member of the Euphorbia family. Ingesting the leaves cause nausea, vomiting and some hallucinations. The meeting at Lowes with the plant people basically said it would take about 500 leaves to seriously injure an average weight child. That's some serious grazing. Same thing with pets. They KNOW what not to eat unlike nibbling children.............A child will nibble something because it's pretty or colorful. Animals have those sophisticated senses of smell. And since it has an expurgative effect, you'd have some colorful ralph to clean up. By the way, the common houseplant, philodendrum is poisonous.......and the potato, when allowed to get too green from sunlight can really make you sick as potato's are from the belladonna family. I've never had a problem with anything eating the shoots of potato's that grew out of my compost pile and I peel my taters deeply to get past the green if they get too much sunlight before I can cook them all. madgardener

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Poinsettas are harmless to pets & people.
This has been a fascinating series of posts, because uniformly incorrect, showing how deeply ingrained is the myth of poinsettia toxicity. But to quote Keith L. Smith of the Ohio State University Agricultural Extension: "Various reports over the years have led the general public to believe poinsettias are toxic to humans; however, this has not been authenticated. Research conducted at The Ohio State University & other institutions has proved the old wives' tale that poinsettias are poisonous to be false."
Yet it is a deeply ingrained myth that poinsettias are toxic. It is so ingrained that it gets tossed onto dozens of "poisonous plants lists" with no one bothering to check to find out if there is actually any toxic alkaloid in this plant, & even veterinarians will state with straight faces that poinsettias will kill cats or dogs, though no veterinarian on earth has ever seen this happen because it can't happen. The mature plant exudes a white milk similar to that of toxic euphorbias, which would tend to increase the belief in this myth once it got started, but there is not one case on record of poinsettias injuring pets, & people, but the caustic level is about the same as that of a dandylion.
The currently prevailing theory is that the myth began in Hawaii in 1919, when a two year old child was found dead under a full grown poinsettia tree, with a poinsettia leaf in her hand. This is the ONLY death-by-poinsettia ever reported, & it was a 100% false report. A Cornell University professor in 1972 attempted long after the case to track down the specifics, knowing as he did that poinsettias are nontoxic. The last living witness to the case said there had never been poinsettias involved in the only known case of poinsettia poisoning; that he didn't know how the story got started since poinsettias were not involved [see details in THE MEXICAN PET].
In close to a century since, the one additional case of moderate illness has been reported, but it was not medically tested at the time, & could've been anything, but the parent presenting a child with stomach upset had seen the child eat a poinsettia leaf. This was the much-cited case was in Rochester, NY, in 1965, but the child did not need to be treated for anything whatsoever.
The urban folktale itself causes headaches for florists & poinsettia ranchers, as nothing squelches the belief. The Paul Ecke Poinsettia Ranch strives every winter to undue this unkillable myth, to the point that market manager Thom David grabs a few bracts & eats them right in front of anyone who persists in the belief, & that always settles the matter, so perhaps he should do this on Fear Factor, as nothing less would reach enough people to have any chance of turning the widespread belief around.
Harrassed by superstitious activists who wanted the government to force the poinsettia industry to put toxic warning labels on poinsettias, the Consumer Products Safety Commission accumulated all relevant literature, & in 1975 denied the petition, issuing instead a clean bill of health for the complete safety of poinsettias, citing the complete lack of any evidence to the contrary. Yet a Bruskin/Goldring Research poll of 1,000 Americans found that 50% were certain poinsettias were poisonous, 34% didn't know, & only 16% were well informed. They found that women were more prone to believing the myth than men; & anyone under the age of 50 was more apt to believe it than anyone aged 50 or older (so we DO get wiser as we age!); & people in the Northeast were more prone to believing the myth than were people in the West.
Many otherwise harmless plant alkaloids in sufficient concentration can cause vomiting, for which reason the American Medicical Association's poison handbook still states that poinsettias might cause stomach upset or vomiting, though otherwise harmless. The AMA is being overcautious even at that, since stomach upset & vomiting can be induced by a cheap meal at Taco Time. A study by the Academic Faculty of Entomology at Ohio State University measured effects of ingesting large amounts of the plant & were unable to reach a toxic level. Using rat models, a diet of poinsettia leaves had no adverse effects, a zero mortality rate, zero symptoms of toxicity, no changes in behavior, & they were fed serially each part of the poinsettia to find out if any part of it was even mildly toxic. So far as the rats were concerned, the poinsettia is completely edible raw, though for a human to eat them one would need to be awfully desparate, as the bitter taste is extremely horrible. They established that if a 50 pound dog or child could eat the equivalent of between 500 & 600 of the bracts, or a pound & a half of the sap, they would still not have reached a toxic dosage. In essence they found it to be completely.
The Ohio research has been duplicated by other institutes because of the persistance of the belief, & the results are always the same. A study by the Childrens Hospital in Pittsburgh & Carnegie Mellon University found that out of 22,793 poinsettia exposures in the American Association of Poison Control Centers database, not one case of toxicity was present. In 1996, Dr. Edward Krenzelok, director of Pittsburgh Poison Center, analyzed data on 850,000 poinsettia exposure reports in the database of the American Association of Poison Countrol Centers, finding not one case of authentic poisoning. It is extremely hard for children to successfully swallow the leaves because they taste so damned bad, but in that enormous database were 92 cases involving children injesting quantities of poinsettias, inducing very worried parents to contact poison centers. NOT ONE of these cases resulted in any harmful effects.
My own suspicion is the myth originally transferred from Christmas mistletoe (mildly toxic) & English holly (much more toxic), which are properly worried about.
-paghat the ratgirl
PS: There ARE toxic euophorbias, & as point of fact even those will compost safely.
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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