|Thursday Tips: Poinsettias|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 20 December 2012|
Considered one of North America’s Christmas flowers, most of us purchase our poinsettias from the garden center in the form of potted plants during the holiday season. In their native habitat, the mountains of Mexico, poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are actually semi-tropical woody shrubs. The US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, for whom poinsettias are named, introduced poinsettias to the US in 1825.
Propagated by leaf cuttings, and available in a wide range of colors, California is the largest commercial grower of poinsettias in the world. Look closely at the poinsettia flower and you will see that what appear to be the petals of the flower are actually bracts. Bracts are modified leaves. The flowers themselves are non-descript consisting of small green cup-like structures.
Poinsettias do not like variations in temperature so keep them away from drafts. As with most other members of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family, a milky white latex sap exudes from the leaves and stems. This sap is not poisonous but may be irritating to the skin, more so in native species rather than propagated ones.
Fire on the mountain E. cyathophora, a somewhat weedy perennial that bears a resemblance to the propagated varieties, is the only poinsettia native to the US.
Poinsettias: Myth & Legend
The Poinsettia Tradition
And…if you really like poinsettias these Cordless Lighted Poinsettia Garlands are fun to decorate with (I actually keep mine up all year long!).