A Poinsettia story

The Poinsettia is synonymous with the Christmas season, but where did it come from?

They were named for the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett. He sent a cutting of the plant he found in a southern Mexico home and that's how it all started.

But why is it associated with Christmas? Stories vary that it's a symbol of the star of Bethlehem or there's the Mexican tale of a girl who had nothing to give the Baby Jesus but weeds and when she took them to church they miraculously changed to the beautiful poinsettia.

About 100 years ago a child was thought to have died from eating the leaves of the plant, and like any good story it caught fire. Many people to this day still believe the plant is poisonous, which is just not true.

"No, there's never been a documented case of anybody dying from eating poinsettias. And the studies that were done to determine how poisonous poinsettias might be, you'll have to eat somewhere on the order of 500-600 leaves of a poinsettia plant at a setting," said Dr. Clay Robinson WTAMU Professor of Soil Sciences.

That's a lot of leaves to get down before you hit toxic levels. But that doesn't mean you want to make a salad of it. Robinson said it's probably best to keep them out of reach of kids and pets, to avoid them having an upset tummy.

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