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.

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