The Q&A Archives: Chenille Plants

Question: I have a chenille plant. I bought it at a nursery that is quite large and full of flowers. I don't know much about the gardening scene, but I have read that chenille plants are poisonus. The pictures I have seen on here are similar, but the leaves are larger and the flowers longer and more slender in the picture. Is any type of chenille plant poisonus?

Answer: Your Chenille plant is Acalypha, a member of the Euphorbia family. There are two species commonly grown, A bispida, that grows to 10 feet tall with huge green leaves and crimson colored tassles up to 1 1/2 feet long, and Acalypha pendula, also known as Firetail, with a much smaller growing habit, and shorter tassles. As members of the Euphorbia family they contain a milky juice within the stems that can irritate the skin of sensitive individuals. Poinsettia is in this family, as well. While not considered poisonous, the plant parts can be toxic if eaten, so exercise caution when handling them if you're sensitive to the sap, and don't consume the leaves, stems or flowers.

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