– Michelle R. ANSWER: Don’t feel too bad.Poinsettias are notoriously hard to care for as a houseplant. Today, the plant is known in Mexico as “La Flor de la Nochebuena”, which means “Flower of the Holy Night” because it blooms during the Christmas season. With its striking red and green leaves and starry shape, it easily adds a Christmassy touch wherever it's featured. In fact, the poinsettia tree is named after the first US minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. Though Arnold later admitted that the story was hearsay and that poinsettias were not proven to be poisonous, the plant was thus thought deadly. History of the Poinsettia. They were cultivated by the Aztecs for use in traditional medicine. The poinsettia is named after the man who first brought the plant to the United States. Poinsettias are popular garden plants in tropical and subtropical areas and are well-known potted plants associated with winter festivities in temperate regions. Once selected, Poinsettias require little care. [3] A survey of more than 20,000 calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers from 1985–1992 related to poinsettia exposure showed no fatalities. The plant should be full and bushy, and you should not be able to see through the stems and leaves. 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. mid-November) the poinsettia plant is the perfect first step to sprinkling a little festive joy in our homes. Euphorbia is one of the genera of the family Euphorbiaceae, with more than 2000 species including Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias are named after an amateur botanist, Joel Robert Poinsett, who brought the plant to the U.S. from Mexico in 1825. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. [5] Klotzsch credited Carl Ludwig Willdenow with the species name "pulcherrima", and the authority is given as Willd. So don’t worry, enjoy your Poinsettias and enjoy the holidays! It was a custom in many villages to honor the Christ child by bringing gifts for him to the church. The plant is still commonly used for decorative purposes in Mexico. A conservation risk typical for species with wild and cultivated populations is the contamination of the wild gene pool by hybridization with cultivated individuals. This story reminds us that that any gift is beautiful when given with love and even the smallest gift would be appreciated if given with an open heart! These bracts change color in response to the plant forming flowers. He was a botanist, physician, diplomat and statesman. [29], Albert Ecke emigrated from Germany to Los Angeles in 1900, opening a dairy and orchard in the Eagle Rock area. [10] In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. They used the plant as part of their mid-winter celebrations and planted it widely long before Europeans discovered North America. It’s cold outside and warm in our souls. Poinsettias are tropical plants and can grow nearly 10 feet high in the wild. Many species have common names that vary from region to region and country to country, including Euphorbia pulcherrima which is widely known as Poinsettia in North America, but also all over the world. They range from creamy white to pink to the traditional bright red. The plant was later named to honor Ambassador Poinsett’s efforts. They had a number of practical uses for the plant, from dying clothes to using the sap as medicine, as well as for decoration. Montezuma, a 15th century Aztec king, adorned his palace with Poinsettia, having his people cultivate the flower as a gift from the Gods. Poinsettia is also known as “Christmas Star” or “Christmas Flower” because of the colorful star-shaped bracts that are always around during Christmas time. The poinsettia is named after the man who first brought the plant to the United States. What's in a Name? 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. [4], An attempt to determine a poisonous dose of poinsettia to rats failed, even after reaching experimental doses equivalent to consuming 500 leaves, or nearly 1 kg (2.2 lb) of sap. Bracts are a showy set of leaves that form on top of the dark green foliage of a poinsettia. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who is credited with introducing the plant to the US in the 1820s. [6], It was known by the common name "poinsettia" as early as 1836,[7] derived from Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and the first US Minister to Mexico. [7], The poinsettia is the world's most economically important potted plant. The holotype had been collected in Mexico during an 1803–1804 expedition by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. The plants also require abundant light during the day for the brightest color. The holotype had been collected in Mexico during an 1803–1804 expedition by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. [14] In 1944, the plant was included in H. R. Arnold's book Poisonous Plants of Hawaii on this premise. [10][11] 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. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. 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. 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. There is a specific poinsettia variety growing in Guerrero (Mexico). 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. 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. The poinsettia was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and the first U.S. Minister to Mexico, who began sending the plant back to his greenhouses in South Carolina as early as 1826. Well, the common name derives from the fact that Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. The red floral bracts were quite narrow and droopy as compared with those of modern poinsettias, and they had large open centers. Population sizes are frequently very small, with as few as a dozen individuals. However, the story turned out to be completely unsubstantiated. Indigenous to Mexico and Central America, it was described as a new species in 1834. Poinsettias are cheery plants that are widely grown indoors over Christmas for their brightly coloured bracts. Poinsett served South Carolina in the state legislature and as Chairman of the Board of Public Works. Poinsettia. A poinsettia left to grow on its own will naturally take an open, somewhat weedy look. Infection by poinsettia branch-inducing phytoplasma is actually desirable, as it keeps the plants shorter with more flowers. The poinsettia (/ p ɔɪ n ˈ s ɛ t i ə / or / p ɔɪ n ˈ s ɛ t ə /) (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family (Euphorbiaceae).Indigenous to Central America, it was described as a new species in 1834. Skin exposure to the sap may cause itchiness, redness, or swelling. According to legend, a young Mexican girl named Pepita lived in a small village in a poor house. Origin of poinsettia. Poinsettia Perfection. Christmas time is here and the magic of the season is all around us! Poinsettias are not harmful to humans or animals, but they should not be eaten. Today, Poinsettia is the most popular Christmas plant and is grown globally for Christmas celebrations. Populations can be up to several hundred individuals, but this is not typical. [18] From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. Wild poinsettia populations are highly fragmented, as their habitat is experiencing largely unregulated deforestation. They were popular and important plants to the Aztec people in the 14th to 16th century. [9] Prior to poinsettia, it was known as "Mexican flame flower" or "painted leaf". The blood-red bracts were a symbol of sacrifices and creation. Its range is about 2,000 km (1,200 mi) long, encompassing mid-elevation tropical dry forests. They became associated with the Christmas holiday and are popular seasonal decorations. Just because it’s not harmful doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat. According to poinsettia flower history provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, American growers produced more than 33 million poinsettias in 2014. Conditions that promote poinsettia propagation also favor certain diseases. The family Euphorbiaceae is the fourth-largest flowering plant family with nearly 300 genera and 7,500 species. He also represented South Carolina in Congress and was Secretary of War. Poinsettia Care After the Holidays. [28] The discovery of the role phytoplasmas play in the growth of axillary buds is credited to Ing-Ming Lee of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. When it comes to watering Poinsettias, you have to find the balance between not too wet and not too dry. Poinsettias make a great gift when visiting family for the holidays. [7], Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres (2–13 ft). They make even more sense as a gift for those who live far away, especially during this challenging time of COVID-19. In spring, return the plant to a sunny area and water well. Exposure to the plant, even consumption, most often results in no effect,[4] though it can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.[3]. 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