Poinsettia: The Christmas Flower

 Poinsettia on Saint Charles Main Street Photo Credit: Liz Watkins

Poinsettia on Saint Charles Main Street
Photo Credit: Liz Watkins

These beautiful flowers are a well-recognized symbol of Christmas.  Originally from Mexico Poinsettias are by far the most popular of flower plants during Christmas. As a matter of fact, they are the largest flowering plant crop in the U.S. with sales of over 63 million pots!

The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.

December 12th we celebrate this Christmas "Flower"  with Poinsettia Day.  Poinsettia Day was officially declared by an Act of Congress. It is in honor of  Joel Roberts Poinsett, who died on December 12, 1851. Poinsett was the first Ambassador to Mexico . Poinsett brought this colorful plant back to his plantation in the U.S.  He grew the plants in his Greenville, S.C plantation and gave them out as gifts to friends.

In Mexico, the Poinsettia is knonw as "la flor de Nochebuena" or Christmas Eve Flower.  It isdisplayed around Dia de la Virgen, December 12.In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua or Pascua, meaning Easter flower. In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. In Turkey, it is called Atatürk's flower because Atatürk, the founder of the Republic, liked this flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation in Turkey.  Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations in homes, churches, offices and elsewhere across North America.

In the United States and perhaps elsewhere, there is a common misconception that the poinsettia is highly toxic. This misconception was spread by a 1919 urban legend of a two-year-old child dying after consuming a poinsettia leaf. 
That being said, please don't test this.
Please note it is toxic to pets. 

Hoping everyone enjoys their Poinsettia. 

Elizabeth WatkinsComment