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The poinsettia is an iconic plant that is most popular during the holiday season. It’s bright red bracts and green leaves make this plant a Christmas favorite. It is also commonly known as “noche bueno” or the “Christmas star”.
The Mexican native plant is available in a vast array of colors other than red which allows the growers and plant owners to not only have use for it during the holidays, but all year around as well.
Euphorbia pulcherrima, or poinsettia, is small tree which typically grows anywhere between .06 to 4 m, or 2 to 16 ft. Its oval shaped, pointed tipped, green leaves grow between 7 to 16 cm, or 3 to 6 inches.
The most predominant part of the poinsettia is its bracts. These are the bright colored leaves on the plant and have the most appeal. These grow from 10.2 to17.8 cm, or 4 to 7 in.
The bract are not to be confused with a flower. The flowers actually emerge in the winter from the stem tips. They are the small yellow structures at the center of the bracts and is called cythia. The flowers also do not attract pollinators.
The bracts of the poinsettia are not only available in red. They are colored in a great varietyof colors from orange to pink, pale green to cream, pink to white, and even marbled.
These brilliant colors of the bracts come from potoperiodism, which means the response to proportions of light and dark within a 24 hour cycle. The more light the plant receives during the day, the brighter the color will be.
The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found at moderate elevations in the deciduous tropical forest. They reside from Sinaloa all the way down the Pacific Mexican coast to Guatemala.
From it’s name, the meaning of “pulcherrima” means most beautiful. Poinsettia is named after Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico.
The Mexican Christmas tale behind the poinsettia is of a young girl who was too poor to afford gifts for the birthday of Jesus.
An angel had inspired the girl to collect as many weeds as she could from the side of the road and to place them all at the from of the church’s alter.Overnight, the weeds had bloomed bright red leaves and had become beautiful poinsettias.
The plant has also obtained the name the “star of Bethlehem”. The red of the poinsettia is said to represent the red blood sacrifice of Jesus’ Crucifixion.
Now the poinsettia is used to celebrate the holiday season in homes, offices, churches, or anywhere that chooses to add some Christmas spirit. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day. They are especially available for purchase and delivery to locations throughout Hayward, CA, Laredo, TX, Cary, NC, Yonkers, NY, and Jacksonville, FL.
It has been rumored time and time again that the poinsettia plant is toxic and can be deadly. The rumors of the toxicity of this plant is untrue.
Though the plant can be mildly irritating to the skin or the stomach causing vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, it is not deadly. It may also cause temporary blindness if the sap comes into contact with the eye.
Various studies were done to prove this point from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine to POSINDEX to Ohio State University and all studies have shown that there are not life threatening affects from the poinsettia plant.