_With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would share some information about a plant we will all be seeing a lot of very soon, the poinsettia. Poinsettias come in a variety of colors from traditional red and white to dyed purple, blue and even green and gold.
Common Name: Poinsettia
Botanical Name: Euphorbia pulcherrima
With its beautiful star-shape, poinsettia is a popular Christmas flower. In Central America it is called the "Flame Leaf" or "Flower of the Holy Night". A native of Mexico, it was brought here over a hundred years ago by Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first US ambassador to Mexico. Most of the poinsettias used these days come from California.
The legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It tells of a girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo. They were very poor but always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year a large manger scene was set up in the village church, and the days before Christmas were filled with parades and parties. The two children loved Christmas but were always saddened because they had no money to buy presents. They especially wished that they could give something to the church for the Baby Jesus. But they had nothing.
One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church to attend the service. On their way they picked some weeds growing along the roadside and decided to take them as their gift to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene. Of course they were teased by other children when they arrived with their gift, but they said nothing for they knew they had given what they could. Maria and Pablo began placing the green plants around the manger and miraculously, the green top leaves turned into bright red petals, and soon the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers and so we see them today.
Interesting Fact: The Poinsettia is NOT poisonous. It is mildly irritating to the skin or stomach and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting if eaten. Sap in the eye may even cause temporary blindness but no fatalities have ever been documented. While it is true that the plant is not very toxic, those sensitive to latex may suffer an allergic reaction and it is therefore not advisable to bring the plants into the home of sensitive individuals.
The origin of this myth could be found in the fact that many plants of the spurge genus are indeed toxic. This misconception was spread by a 1919 urban legend of a two-year-old child dying after consuming a poinsettia leaf.
Faye K.-Owner/Designer at Blooming Envy since 2005.