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The Lovely Poinsettia

Red poinsettia flowers

For a long time now the Poinsettia has been considered to be a Christmas flower. So you might be wondering about its history. Poinsettia plants come from Central America. Most of them from Taxco del Alarcon which is an area in southern Mexico. Here these plants even flower during the winter. They were even known to the ancient Aztecs who called them “cuetlazochitl” and that is quite a mouthful. The Aztecs used the poinsettia flowers to make a purple dye for their clothes and cosmetics. The plant’s milky white sap was used to make medicine in order to treat fevers nowadays this sap is known as latex.

The way the poinsettia got its name and became so popular was all due to a man known as Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the first U.S.A. Ambassador to Mexico in 1825. While visiting the Taxco area in 1828 he became interested in the plants and brought some of them back to his plantation in South Carolina where he had greenhouses. Soon he was growing the plants and giving them to friends and botanical gardens.

One poinsettia plant found its way to a man in Philadelphia John Barroom who in turn gave it to his friend Robert Buist. Buist was the very first to sell this plant under its Latin tern “Euphorbia pulcherrima” which translates to “the most beautiful Euphorbia”. The plants only became known as poinsettia in the mid-1830s when people heard about who had brought them to America.

The poinsettia flower and leaves are shaped so that they are sometimes thought of as being a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. Their red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ and their white leaves represent His purity.

The Poinsettia is also the national emblem of Madagascar.

  • Question /

    Do you like the poinsettia?

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  • Question /

    Do you have a poinsettia at Christmas?

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