Poinsettias

Poinsettia’s are some of my favorite plants.

Cee’s FOTO Challenge for today is on this lovely specimen.

The holiday season really doesn’t start in my home until I have a poinsettia or two livening up the decor in my home. Usually, we get two to three huge plants from Sam’s Club for about $15.00 each! But, I’ve been known to buy them at the grocery store, Target, and even a plant nursery if I’m in the right place at the right time and the price is right.

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These beautiful plants are native to Central America where they grow as shrubs on the roadside and were once thought of as weeds.  I’ve seen them growing in the wild on the island of Maui, in two separate locations. The first time I saw it there was on our way to a coffee shop, where it was planted along the roadside as a hedgerow.  Unfortunately, I did not think fast enough to get a photo. Then, in 2015, I was able to pose by a huge poinsettia growing on the volcanic mountain-side of Haleakala. It was at least 12 feet tall!  We also saw them used as holiday decorations on street corners in the San Diego and La Jolla, California area in 2012.

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I’ve used this plant to teach my garden club students plant lore and legend and  also how plants are named. There are many interesting facts about the poinsettia, including how they came to this country. The legend of the Christmas Flower (Poinsettia) is also well worth exploration.

Dr. Joel Poinsett was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the early 1820’s and saw the poinsettia, which was called , “Flor de Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve flower” according to Wikipedia. 

He brought the plant back to Charleston, South Carolina, where he lived in the U.S., and quickly the red beauty was popularized. As with many of the early politicians, Poinsett was also an avid botanist.

The flower of this plant is not the lovely red colored leaves. They are actually called bracts and merely modified leaves that respond to a interrupted photoperiod in late summer. The flower of the poinsettia is the small yellow centers found in a cluster of bracts.

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If you want to read some more about poinsettia please check out these recommended books & websites:

The Poinsettia Pages: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension

http://extension.illinois.edu/poinsettia/facts.cfm

https://extension.illinois.edu/poinsettia/ (lore and legends)

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola (1994)

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

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