Poinsettias Are Not Going to Poison Your Pet or Kid (McGill OSS)

1 minute read

If you have avoided having poinsettias in your home because of small children or animals, you’re not alone. But despite the commonly held belief that poinsettias are toxic, they aren’t. This myth seems to have originated in 1919 with a misattributed poisoning of a child and perhaps persisted because several members of the same family as the flower are quite toxic.

Despite fears of poinsettia poisonings in over 22 thousand calls made to American Poison Control about children eating the red leaves, there wasn’t a single fatality. A 50 lb (22.68 kg) child would need to eat 500-600 leaves to exceed the doses that have been proven experimentally safe.

These leaves, however, aren’t meant for your salad, so eating even a couple can give you an upset stomach or cause vomiting. This is the reaction commonly seen in dogs and cats, but since these symptoms are mild, oftentimes no veterinarian care is required, although you should contact your vet if your pet is sick for more than a few hours.   

The biggest risk comes from touching, rather than eating, the plant, as it produces latex from its stem (like thousands of other plants) that can cause skin or eye irritation in humans and non-humans alike

Original article posted here: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know-health-and-nutrition/what-you-need-know-about-poinsettias-and-poison

Khat, and Not the Fuzzy Kind

Originally published here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know/khat-and-not-fuzzy-kind

Khat is a plant native to Africa that when chewed produces a stimulant effect, similar to amphetamines. It’s regulated in several countries (including Canada) and its use actually predates the drinking of coffee. In Yemen khat is chewed in a way similar to chewing tobacco, in social settings, and is so popular that 40% of the country’s water supply goes to irrigating its growth.

Latex emitting dandelions

Originally published here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know-environment/latex-emitting-dandelions

Ever snap off a dandelion head and see the white liquid seeping out from the stem? It turns out that fluid isn’t sap or poison, but a defense mechanism, in the form of latex! The Lithuanian word for dandelions is ‘pienė’, which literally translates to milky, for the white liquid. Latex is produced by cells called laticifers, which exist in more than 20 000 plant species, as well as some fungi. Dandelions are fairly special though, as only 6% of temperate plants produce latex, versus 14% of tropical ones.