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Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Euphorbia pulcherrima

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Close-Up of a Poinsettia Flower

The Poinsettia is a very popular ornamental plant that many people put around their homes, churches, and businesses to add festivity, and is the most popular potted plant in the U.S. In the year of 2004, in the six week period it is sold in, there were over 61 million plants sold. It is best known as a Christmas flower, being mainly bought during Christmas time for decorations. The United States dedicated December 12 as National Poinsettia Day, but it is native to Mexico and Guatemala, and wasn't introduced to the US until 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett (the first United States Ambassador to Mexico), which is where the name Poinsettia is derived. [2]


True Poinsettia flowers

Poinsettia's are not like most ornamental plants. Instead of petals, the bright red structure on Poinsettia's are bracts. Bracts are the long reddish leaves that look like pedals on the Poinsettia. Underneath each one of the bracts you can see white veins; just like what you would find on the underside of a leaf. The greenish yellow bulb in the middle of the Poinsettia is a cyathia. The little flowers that grow out of the cyathium are called pistillate flowers. In each cyathium flower there are many male flowers but there is usually only one female flower. [3] Those glands are the nectar producing glands which is what the insects and other bugs are attracted to. One unusual thing the Poinsettia has is that there sap is not poisonous. In a Poinsettia's natural habitat they usually grow .6 to 4 meters. In Mexico they grow over 8 to feet tall.[4]


The Poinsettia is an monoecious plant, which means that the plant has both female and male organs. The cyathium is the male part which consists of about five sperm/pollen producing male flower. The pistillate or female flower that comes out of the cyathium contains ovaries or eggs. What happens when the flowers want to pollinate the pedicel pushes the pistillate up and out of the cyathium and pollinates. Some other ways it pollinates is by bugs or birds because of the bright red bracts that attract them. [5]


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The Poinsettas are native to the Mexican and South American soil. They mainly grow in there native land where they can grow up to fifteen feet tall. It will grow the best in shady places in woody shrubs during the long summers. To grow to its prime you would need to keep it in hot temperature with soggy not drenched soil. Poinsettia's are very sensitive plants when it comes to light. If there is to much light exposure to the plant will not flower. The bracts will start to wilt very fast if the temperature goes below cold. In it natural habitat its very hard for Poinsettias to flower because of how much the conditions change which why you don't find very many out in its natural habitat. [6]


In 1919 a US officer's two year old son died from what people claimed to be Poinsettia poisoning. They said the little boy ingested some of the Poinsettia's leaves which ended up killing him. Some people were very skeptic that this plant could kill anyone so they performed tests. It turns out after numerous tests that have been done that a fifty pound child would have to intake more then a pound of leaves to cause harm, which is the equivalent to five hundred to six hundred leaves. The American Society of Florists says that the poinsettia plant has been tested for toxicity more than any other consumer plant. There are so many parents every year that do not know that this plant is not poisonous, and will take their child to the hospital just to find out everything is fine. [7]

Poinsettia Monopoly

In California, the Paul Eckes family held a secret, until nineteen years ago, that gave them a Poinsettia monopoly. There was one main thing that put them above everyone else and that is getting the plants to grow so that multiple branches come of one stem. By doing this method it creates a fuller, brighter, more colorful plant. How the Eckes would do this is they would graft to varieties of poinsettia's together therefore making it possible so that every seedling would get to each branch. They kept this up until about ten years ago when a researcher published this information after finding it so now everyone uses this technique.[8]


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See Also