Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Plant of the Week: Poinsettia "Christmas Flower"

'Christmas Flower'

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular potted plants, particularly during the Christmas season. Brightly colored and mostly red, a Poinsettia provides effective color in home decor during and after the holiday season. The newer Poinsettia cultivars are long-lasting in contrast to the cultivars that were available a few years ago. Christmas charm is what these amazing Poinsettias hold.

Facts About Poinsettias:
- Poinsettias are the most popular of the holiday plants.
- Poinsettias are native to southern Mexico and Central America.
- Poinsettias also bloom in cream, lemon, peach, pink colors and with white and gold-splashed leaves.
- Poinsettia's botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, means "the most beautiful Euphorbia".
- Poinsettia was named after the former US ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who introduced the      Poinsettia to the United States.
- Recent research has proved that Poinsettias are not poisonous.
- Poinsettias, at times, reach a height of sixteen feet.
- Poinsettias are also known by other names such as 'Christmas flower', 'lobster flower', and 'Mexican flame leaf'.
As a result of its importance in the celebration of Christmas and its beautification of America, December 12th is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day, to honor the passing away of Joel R. Poinsett.

Not Poisonous
A common misconception about poinsettias is that they are a poisonous plant. While these plants should not be eaten, extensive studies have proven they are not poisonous to humans or animals. But like most members of the Euphorbia clan, they do have a milky sap inside the stem, which may cause skin irritation for some people.

Leaves, Not Flowers
Another misconception about poinsettias is that they have red flowers. When actually, the "flowers" are simply colored leaves called bracts. The insignificant yellow buds in the center of the colored bracts are the actual flowers.

Sensitive to Carbon Monoxide
It's a little known fact that poinsettias are very susceptible to carbon monoxide. If your poinsettia is wilting or losing leaves immediately upon arrival in your home, you may want to have your carbon monoxide levels tested.

Poinsettias & Christmas:
The ancient Aztecs (the Mexican Indians) prized the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity. Centuries later, Mexico's early Christians adopted the Poinsettia as their prized Christmas Eve flower. The Mexican Poinsettia, known as the Christmas flower in North America, is used in most Christmas decorations, owing to its bright red color and its blooming season coinciding with the Christmas holiday season.
The Mexican poinsettias are commonly bright red. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas Poinsettia flowers have become a symbol of Christmas and are used as festive decor.
A Mexican legend explains how Poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God's eyes. When brought into the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers and the congregation felt that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.