Good Question

Dec 12, 2012 11:15 PM by John Reger

GQ: Questions about Poinsettias

In Good Question tonight, we're answering questions about the number one potted plant in North America... and a holiday favorite.

What's the correct pronunciation of poinsettia? Are the plants poisonous? How'd their holiday tradition start? These are all Good Questions?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives "poinsett-ia" as the first pronunciation, with "poinsett-a" the second acceptable pronunciation. I checked with plant growers associations and they say both are okay. That's what the sponsors of college football's Poinsettia Bowl say too, although their ads all say "poinsett-ia."

Poison control centers, including the ASPCA's, say poinsettias are not poisonous to humans or animals. A 50-pound child would have to eat 600 leaves to reach the least toxic level. Eating the bad-tasting leaves can cause nausea or vomiting.

The poinsettia was first brought to the U.S. from Mexico in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett.

The plant's ties to Christmas started with a legend from the 1500's in Mexico. On Christmas Eve a little girl was too poor to have a gift for Baby Jesus so she picked some weeds from the road, and miraculously they blossomed into beautiful red and green flowers.

By the way, today is National Poinsettia Day.

Be sure to send your good question to me by friending me on facebook at The only bad question is the one you don't ask.