These bracts change color in response to the plant forming flowers. Other names used to describe poinsettias include flame leaf flower and lobster flower. As the plant gained in popularity in the United States, horticulturalist William Prescott honored the ambassador who brought it here with its common name – Poinsettia. The plant has dark green leaves and yellow flowers surrounded with large, colorful bracts which look like petals. The blood-red bracts were a symbol of sacrifices and creation. Coincidentally, December 12 is also The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe), one of Mexico’s most popular Catholic festivals that celebrates the belief that a man encountered the Virgin Mary, Mexico’s patron saint, in Mexico City on that day in 1531. Poinsettia's botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, means "the most beautiful Euphorbia". It has been hypothesized that the inaccessibility of the canyons may protect the wild populations from human disturbance. History of the Poinsettia. With its striking red and green leaves and starry shape, it easily adds a Christmassy touch wherever it's featured. They were the first to begin using Poinsettias at the holidays during their Nativity ceremonies. Most wild populations are on Pacific-facing slopes in steep canyons. ex Klotzsch. On that day, Poinsettias are displayed in celebration of the Virgin Mary, otherwise known as the Virgin of Guadalupe. [13], Poinsettias are popularly, though incorrectly, said to be toxic to humans and other animals. How the Poinsettia became known as Christmas symbol? She felt embarrassed that she didn’t have more to offer to Jesus and sadness filled her heart. Fungal diseases affecting greenhouse poinsettia operations include Pythium root rot, Rhizoctonia root and stem rot, black root rot, scab, powdery mildew, and Botrytis blight. Poinsettias are cheery plants that are widely grown indoors over Christmas for their brightly coloured bracts. [15] Contact with any part of the plant by children or pets often has no effect, though it may cause nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting if swallowed. They were cultivated by the Aztecs for use in traditional medicine. The plant was a Euphorbia pulcherima and part of the spurge family. [8] 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. These wild Mexican plants were 12 to 15 feet tall with only 1 or 2 stems. So don’t worry, enjoy your Poinsettias and enjoy the holidays! There they grow to shrub-like proportions. [27][10][11], To produce extra axillary buds that are necessary for plants containing multiple flowers, a phytoplasma infection—whose symptoms include the proliferation of axillary buds—is used. Although not a true bloom – it is these bracts that give the poinsettia plant its beautiful color. External exposure to the plant may result in a skin rash for some. The Poinsettia plant was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, who was an American ambassador to Mexico around 1829. He also appeared on television programs like The Tonight Show and Bob Hope's Christmas specials to promote the plants. Although the legend’s truth can not be established, it is certainly a beautiful metaphor for the meaning of Christmas. The truth is that Poinsettias have low toxicity. Infection by poinsettia branch-inducing phytoplasma is actually desirable, as it keeps the plants shorter with more flowers. He would be amazed at what started as simple cuttings from Mexico have become. Hanger Included. The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in length. By 1836, the plant was widely known as the Poinsettia in English-speaking countries. [10], 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. The poinsettia (/pɔɪnˈsɛtiə/ or /pɔɪnˈsɛtə/)[1][2] (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Poinsettia is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 60 cm to 5 metres (2 to 16 ft). The red floral bracts were quite narrow and droopy as compared with those of modern poinsettias, and they had large open centers. Often mistaken for flower petals, its colourful bracts are actually modified leaves that surround a bunch of small, inconspicuous yellow flowers called cyathia. Specific details about its spread from there are largely unverifiable, but it was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1829 by Colonel Robert Carr. Poinsettia is also known as “Christmas Star” or “Christmas Flower” because of the colorful star-shaped bracts that are always around during Christmas time. Poinsettia Care After the Holidays. The poinsettia is named after the man who first brought the plant to the United States. Poinsett was an amateur botanist and liked the plant so much that he sent several back to his home in South Carolina where he grew them in his green house and … 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. [13] Each year in the US, approximately 70 million poinsettias are sold in a period of six weeks, at a value of US$250 million. Exposure to the plant, even consumption, most often results in no effect,[4] though it can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.[3]. Populations were once found in rolling hill areas, though many have gone extinct. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the “Flores de Noche Buena” or “Flowers of the Holy Night”. Cut back all canes (branches) to about 6 inches from the pot’s rim. He introduced this tree to the United States in the early 1820s. The holotype had been collected in Mexico during an 1803–1804 expedition by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. They produced a fuller, more compact plant by grafting two varieties of poinsettia together. [10] In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. At that time, the legend of the little Pepita was born, forever mixing the red and green colors to Christmas folklore in a story in which Poinsettias and Christmas come together. Klotzsch credited Carl Ludwig Willdenow with the species name "pulcherrima", and the authority is given as Willd. They are grouped within the cyathia (small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, or false flowers). 1830–40;
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