Interesting Facts About Poinsettias
No flower says Christmas like the beautiful poinsettia.
In Mexico the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that will grow 10-15 feet tall. There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today. Poinsettias come in colors like the traditional red, white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled.
Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family ooze a milky sap. Some people with latex allergies have had a skin reaction (most likely to the sap) after touching the leaves. Despite rumors to the contrary, Poinsettias are not poisonous. The most common side effects that have been reported from Poinsettia ingestions are upset stomach and vomiting.
Poinsettias received their name in the United States in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant into the country in 1828. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. He sent cuttings of the plant he had discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. The word Poinsettia is traditionally capitalized because it is named after a person. December 12th is Poinsettia Day, which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.
In Nahuatl , the language of the Aztecs, the Poinsettia was called Cuitlaxochitl (from cuitlatl, for residue, and xochitl, for flower), meaning "flower that grows in residues or soil."
Today the plant is known in Mexico and Guatemala as ""La Flor de la Nochebuena" (Flower of the Holy Night, or Christmas Eve).
Anatomy Of A Poinsettia
The showy colored parts of Poinsettias that most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves). The yellow flowers, or cyathia, are in the center of the colorful bracts. The plant drops its bracts and leaves soon after those flowers shed their pollen. For the longest-lasting Poinsettias, choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing.
The colors of the bracts are created through "photoperiodism", meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. On the other hand, once Poinsettias finish that process, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.