December 12, 2008 By Snow Maestas of Paul Ecke Ranch
Dec. 12, 2008 — Poinsettias have a special day all for their own! By an Act of Congress in the U.S., Dec.12 was set aside as National
Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who
is credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the United
Dec. 12, 2008 — Poinsettias have a special day all for their own!
By an Act of Congress in the U.S., Dec.12 was set aside as National Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who is credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the United States. The purpose of the day is to enjoy the beauty of this popular holiday plant. So, be sure to give someone you love a poinsettia today!
The plant we know today as the poinsettia has a long and interesting history. The fact is that lovely plant you place in your home during the holidays was once used as a fever medicine! Poinsettias are highly prized throughout the world and widely beloved as the living symbol of the Christmas season.
Poinsettias are flowers native to the Pacific coast of Mexico, some parts of central southern Mexico, and a few localities in Guatemala. They are named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the plant in the U.S. in 1825.
No other flower can make such a brilliant show of bright red throughout the festive weeks of December and January. Alternative names for the poinsettia are Euphorbia pulcherrima, Mexican flame leaf, Christmas star, Winter Rose, Noche Buena, Ataturk’s Flower (in Turkey), and Pascua.
HISTORY AND LEGENDS
The Aztecs called poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitl.” During the 14th through 16th centuries, the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye. Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.
In the 17th century, botanist Juan Balme noted the poinsettia plant in his writings. The botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow. The plant grew through a crack in his greenhouse. Dazzled by its colour, he gave it the botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, meaning “very beautiful.”
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