He became intrigued by the plant and sold them from street stands. They had a number of practical uses for the plant, from dying clothes to using the sap as medicine, as well as for decoration. Poinsettia is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 60 cm to 5 metres (2 to 16 ft). Poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or children as commonly believed unless ingested in large quantities. - Last year, the wholesale value of the poinsettia crop reached nearly $170 million-a jump of more than 400 percent from 1976. Poinsettia Facts. He was so impressed by its color that he gave it a name Euphorbia pulcherrima, which literally means “very pretty plant”. Poinsettias are tropical plants and can grow nearly 10 feet high in the wild.  Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias. Home » Interesting facts » How Did the Poinsettia Become Associated with Christmas. It has been hypothesized that the inaccessibility of the canyons may protect the wild populations from human disturbance. The plant was a Euphorbia pulcherima and part of the spurge family. Its range is about 2,000 km (1,200 mi) long, encompassing mid-elevation tropical dry forests. The poinsettia is named after the man who first brought the plant to the United States. Most wild populations are on Pacific-facing slopes in steep canyons. Origin of poinsettia. The poinsettia was described as a new species in 1834 by German scientist Johann Friedrich Klotzsch. Taxonomically speaking, Euphorbia pulcherrima, widely known as Poinsettia, belongs to a large family of plants known as Euphorbiaceae (the Spurge family). Cassidy Klassen Blog, Gardening. , In the late 1980s, university researcher John Dole discovered the method previously known only to the Eckes and published it, allowing competitors to flourish, particularly those using low-cost labor in Latin America. They produced a fuller, more compact plant by grafting two varieties of poinsettia together. Poinsettias, at times, reach a height of sixteen feet. , The poinsettia occurs in Central America, occurring from Mexico to southern Guatemala.  In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl, meaning "flower that grows in residues or soil" Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as flor de Nochebuena, meaning Christmas Eve flower. Poinsettia wasn’t unknown during this time, but it was used as a Christmas flower only in Mexico. , It was known by the common name "poinsettia" as early as 1836, derived from Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and the first US Minister to Mexico. Cut back all canes (branches) to about 6 inches from the pot’s rim. The plant is still commonly used for decorative purposes in Mexico. The red floral bracts were quite narrow and droopy as compared with those of modern poinsettias, and they had large open centers. Many of these poinsettias are grown by the Ecke family business, which serves half the worldwide market and 70% of the US market. The colored bracts—which are normally flaming red, with cultivars being orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. When the pot seems light, it indicates that the soil is dry and you need to water the plant. The botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima was assigned to the plant by the German botanist Karl Ludwig Wilenow. These bracts change color in response to the plant forming flowers. Joel Roberts Poinsett was appointed by President John Quincy Adams as … These plants will survive as an indoor plant in temperatures between 20-25 degrees Celcius (68-77 degrees Fahrenheit), and they should be kept away from any cold or warm drafts such as drafty windows, air conditioners, radiators and heaters. The Aztecs called them “Cuetlaxochitl”, which means “flower that grows in residues or soil”. Skin exposure to the sap may cause itchiness, redness, or swelling. When selecting a Poinsettia for yourself or as a gift, make sure it has healthy, dark green foliage, well-colored bracts, stiff stems and that no roots are coming out of the pot. They became associated with the Christmas holiday and are popular seasonal decorations. These graceful flowers will add charm and beauty to your Christmas decorations and will also bring holiday cheer into your hearts and your homes! The American Medical Association’s Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants lists nothing more than occasional vomiting as a side effect of ingesting. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the “Flores de Noche Buena” or “Flowers of the Holy Night”.  In 1944, the plant was included in H. R. Arnold's book Poisonous Plants of Hawaii on this premise. The Eckes' technique made it possible to get every seedling to branch, resulting in a bushier plant. , Besides changing the market from mature plants shipped by rail to cuttings sent by air, he sent free plants to television stations for them to display on air from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It won’t be long until Christmas day is here. The plant will need enough water to keep the potting soil damp but not sodden.  The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (at least fourteen hours at a time for 6–8 weeks in a row) to change color. And remember, the smaller pots need watering more often than big ones because they dry out faster. The use of the plant in celebrating Christmas actually dates all the way back to the 17th century, when Franciscan monks in Mexico began using it at the Christmas ceremony.  Each year in the US, approximately 70 million poinsettias are sold in a period of six weeks, at a value of US$250 million. So don’t worry, enjoy your Poinsettias and enjoy the holidays!  Nothing is known about pollination in wild poinsettias, though wasps are noted to occasionally visit the cyathia. Once selected, Poinsettias require little care. He also appeared on television programs like The Tonight Show and Bob Hope's Christmas specials to promote the plants. It is also estimated that 35 million Poinsettias are sold in the United States each year. Poinsettias make a great gift when visiting family for the holidays. They were popular and important plants to the Aztec people in the 14th to 16th century. They are often disposed of once they start to fade, but with a little care, you can keep them all year and the bracts will colour up again the following year. There is a specific poinsettia variety growing in Guerrero (Mexico). , The tropical dry forests where wild poinsettias grow experience largely unregulated deforestation, resulting in habitat loss. However, Cuetlaxochitl was more than just a symbol for Aztecs. As of 2012, wild poinsettias are not protected by Mexican law. One population in the Mexican state of Guerrero is much further inland, however, and is thought to be the ancestor of most cultivated populations. Information and translations of poinsettia in the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the web.  Similarly, a cat or dog's exposure to poinsettias rarely necessitates medical treatment. , The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or María, 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. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima.  The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice of Jesus's crucifixion. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered the kind words spoken to her by her cousin: “Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in his eyes. Other names used to describe poinsettias include flame leaf flower and lobster flower. However, you should avoid direct sunlight since it will dry out more quickly. Genetic analyses showed that the wild populations in northern Guerrero are the likely ancestors of most cultivated poinsettias. Joel Roberts Poinsett was appointed by President John Quincy Adams as the first United States ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s. This introduction forever changed the way we think about Poinsettias, not only in United States, but all over the world. If Christmas had an official flower it has to be the poinsettia, it is an iconic symbol of the holiday season. – Michelle R. ANSWER: Don’t feel too bad.Poinsettias are notoriously hard to care for as a houseplant. Classic Red. Every year in the US, approximately 70 million poinsettias of many cultivated varieties are sold in a six-week period. You may be able to tell when watering is needed by lifting the entire pot. Joel Roberts Poinsett was appointed by President John Quincy Adams as …  Cultivation in the US began when diplomat Joel Roberts Poinsett sent some of the plants back to his greenhouses in South Carolina in the 1820s. Klotzsch credited Carl Ludwig Willdenow with the species name "pulcherrima", and the authority is given as Willd. Poinsett served South Carolina in the state legislature and as Chairman of the Board of Public Works. If the soil always feels cold and wet, it means the roots are stressed from over watering. They were the first to begin using Poinsettias at the holidays during their Nativity ceremonies. Poinsettias are native to Central America and Mexico, especially an area of southern Mexico known as “Taxco del Alarcon” and further south where they flower naturally during the winter. During his ambassadorial time in Mexico, he saw the plant in its native habitat and sent several specimens back to the United States. He was a botanist, physician, diplomat and statesman. A historian and horticulturist, William Prescott named the Euphorbia Pulcherrima ‘Poinsettia’ to honor Poinsett’s discovery after being asked to give it a new name. Poinsettias are not harmful to humans or animals, but they should not be eaten. If ingested, mild drooling or vomiting can occur, or rarely, diarrhea. Infection by poinsettia branch-inducing phytoplasma is actually desirable, as it keeps the plants shorter with more flowers. Montezuma, a 15th century Aztec king, adorned his palace with Poinsettia, having his people cultivate the flower as a gift from the Gods. Poinsettias prefer cooler temperatures overnight and slightly humid air. The plant should be full and bushy, and you should not be able to see through the stems and leaves. In Mexico, Poinsettias are very common, often growing on the side of paths or roads. The Ecke family's business, now led by Paul Ecke III, decided to stop producing plants in the US, but as of 2008, they still served about 70 percent of the domestic market and 50 percent of the worldwide market. Unfortunately, she had no gift to present to the Christ child during the Christmas Eve, so she gathered a bundle of roadside weeds and formed a bouquet. Keep it indoor when the sun is harsh and don’t over water it. It may also be a good idea to repot the poinsettia using the same type of soil. Bacterial diseases include bacterial soft rot and bacterial canker, while a viral disease is Poinsettia mosaic virus. He would be amazed at what started as simple cuttings from Mexico have become. In Nahuatl , the language of the Aztecs, the Poinsettia was called Cuitlaxochitl (from cuitlatl, for residue, and xochitl, for flower), meaning "flower that … ex Klotzsch. A nurseryman from Pennsylvania, John Bartram is credited as being the first person to sell poinsettias under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima , The poinsettia is the world's most economically important potted plant. And contrary to popular belief, Poinsettias are not poisonous.  From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.
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