POINSETTIA – THE CHRISTMAS FLOWER:
Division : Magnoliophyta
Class : Magnoliopsida
Order : Malpighiales
Family : Euphorbiaceae
Genus : Euphorbia
Poinsettias are a well-loved variety of houseplant and are popular potted plants, particularly during the Christmas season. The brightly colored red and green leaves flourish in foil-covered pots in public places enhancing the holiday spirit and hold the Christmas charm. They are said to be poisonous and to have been originated in Mexican state of Morelos.
The bright petals of Poinsettias are actually the bunch of upper leaves of the plant, called bracts. The flower as such is very small, blooming in the center of each leaf bunch. The plant is a sub-tropical one and it cannot stand night temperatures below 100 C and an excess of 210 C in day time. In colder climates they have to be grown as indoor plants. They seem to need an uninterrupted long, light-free nights for about two months in spring to develop flowers.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT POINSETTIA:
- · Poinsettia also blooms in cream, lemon, peach, pink colors and with white and gold splashed leaves.
- · Its botanical name “Euphorbia pulcherrima” means – the most beautiful Euphorbia.
- · It is actually a tropical tree which can grow to a height of 12 feet.
- · It was named after the former US ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.
- · The plant grows to height of 16 feet.
- · They are also called – “Lobster flower”, “Mexican flame leaf” and “Christmas flower”.
- · December 12th is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day, in memory of Joel R. Poinsett.
- · It was a symbol of Purity to the ancient Aztecs civilization.
- · There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias coming in different colors.
- · It is a native of southern Mexico, blooming in the month of December this flower is used to decorate churches for many centuries.
- · According to USDA Floriculture’s Statistical records for the year 2013, nearly 34 million poinsettias have been sold accounting to 23 % of total sales of all flowering plants.
- · California is the topper in the cultivation of Poinsettias with over 6 million pots grown, followed by North Carolina with 4.4 pots sold and then comes Texas with 3.7 million cultivated every year.
- · It is said that the Aztecs used the leaves of this flowering plant to dye fabrics and its sap was used for medicinal purposes.
- · In Mexican and Guatemala language Poinsettia is called as “The Flower of the Holy Night” with reference to Christmas Eve.
- · This plant was introduced into United States by Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and first ambassador of USA to Mexico. He was attracted to the flowers brilliantly colored red leaves found on the side of the road to Taxco, Mexico in December 1828.
- This plant was once identified as poisonous but now many researchers have proved this wrong however it might cause stomach irritation and discomfort when eaten.