The POINSETTIA (/pɔɪnˈsɛtiə/ or /pɔɪnˈsɛtə/ ) (Euphorbia
pulcherrima) is a commercially important plant species of the diverse
spurge family (
Euphorbiaceae ). The species is indigenous to
It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is
widely used in
Christmas floral displays. It derives its common
English name from
Joel Roberts Poinsett
Joel Roberts Poinsett , the first United States
Mexico , who introduced the plant to the US in 1825.
* 1 Description
* 2 Religious and other traditional associations
* 3 Creation of the American poinsettia industry
* 4 Cultivation
* 4.1 Diseases
* 5 Toxicity claims
* 6 References
* 7 External links
Poinsettia leaves, bracts, and flowers at Jayanti in Buxa Tiger
West Bengal ,
Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a
height of 0.6–4 metres (2–13 ft). The plant bears dark green
dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in
length. The colored bracts —which are most often flaming red but can
be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often
mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but
are actually leaves. The colors of the bracts are created through
photoperiodism , meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a
time for at least five days in a row) to change color. At the same
time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the
The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract
pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in
the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia .
The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in
deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations from southern
Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of
Guatemala . It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally
dry forests of
Oaxaca , and Chiapas. Reports of E.
pulcherrima growing in the wild in
Costa Rica have yet
to be confirmed by botanists.
RELIGIOUS AND OTHER TRADITIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic
Nahuatl , the language of the
Aztecs , the plant is
called Cuitlaxochitl, meaning "flower that grows in residues or soil"
Today it is known in
Guatemala as Flor de Noche Buena ,
Christmas Eve Flower. In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua
or Pascua, meaning
Easter flower. In Chile and Peru, the plant became
known as Crown of the Andes. In
Turkey , it is called Atatürk's
flower because Atatürk , the founder of the Republic, liked this
flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation in
Turkey. In Hungarian, it is called Santa Claus\' Flower, and it's
widely used as a
The plant's association with
Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico,
where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was
too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of
Jesus ' birthday and
was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place
them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the
weeds and became poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan
Mexico included the plants in their
The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of
Bethlehem , and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through
the crucifixion of
Poinsettias are popular
Christmas decorations in homes, churches,
offices, and elsewhere across North America. They are available in
large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United
States, December 12 is National
CREATION OF THE AMERICAN POINSETTIA INDUSTRY
Albert Ecke emigrated from Germany to Los Angeles in 1900, opening a
dairy and orchard in the Eagle Rock area. He became intrigued by the
plant and sold them from street stands. His son, Paul Ecke, developed
the grafting technique, but it was the third generation of Eckes, Paul
Ecke Jr., who was responsible for advancing the association between
the plant and Christmas.
Besides changing the market from mature plants shipped by rail to
cuttings sent by air, he sent free plants to television stations for
them to display on air from Thanksgiving to Christmas. He also
appeared on television programs like
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show and
Bob Hope 's
Christmas specials to promote the plants.
Until the 1990s, the Ecke family, who had moved their operation to
Encinitas, California , in 1923, had a virtual monopoly on poinsettias
owing to a technique that made their plants much more attractive.
They produced a fuller, more compact plant by grafting two varieties
of poinsettia together. A poinsettia left to grow on its own will
naturally take an open, somewhat weedy look. The Eckes' technique made
it possible to get every seedling to branch, resulting in a bushier
In 1991, a university researcher discovered the method previously
known only to the Eckes and published it, allowing competitors to
flourish, particularly those using low-cost labor in
Latin America .
The Ecke family's business, now led by Paul Ecke III, decided to stop
producing plants in the U.S., but as of 2008, they still serve about
70 percent of the domestic market and 50 percent of the worldwide
A poinsettia that was stressed and reflowered after growing in
Poinsettia varieties on sale in England A
close-up photo of a poinsettia (
The poinsettia has been cultivated in
Egypt since the 1860s, when it
was brought from
Mexico during the Egyptian campaign. It is called
Bent El Consul, "the consul's daughter", referring to the U.S.
ambassador Joel Poinsett.
There are over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia.
In areas outside its natural environment, it is commonly grown as an
indoor plant where it prefers good morning sun, then shade in the
hotter part of the day. Contrary to popular belief, flowering
poinsettias can be kept outside, even during winter, as long as it is
kept frost-free. It is widely grown and very popular in subtropical
climates such as
The plant requires a daily period of uninterrupted long, dark nights
followed by bright sunny days for around two months in autumn in order
to encourage it to develop colored bracts. Any incidental light during
these nights (from a nearby television set, from under a door frame,
even from passing cars or street lights) hampers bract production.
Commercial production of poinsettia has been done by placing them
inside a greenhouse and covering the latter completely to imitate the
natural biological situation.
To produce extra axillary buds that are necessary for plants
containing multiple flowers, a phytoplasma infection—whose symptoms
include the proliferation of axillary buds—is used. The discovery
of the role phytoplasmas play in the growth of axillary buds is
credited to Ing-Ming Lee of the
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service .
List of poinsettia diseases
Poinsettias are susceptible to several diseases, mostly fungal, but
also bacterial and parasitic.
In the United States and perhaps elsewhere, there is a common
misconception that the poinsettia is highly toxic . This misconception
was spread by a 1919 urban legend of a two-year-old child dying after
consuming a poinsettia leaf.
While the sap and latex of many plants of the spurge genus are indeed
toxic, the poinsettia's toxicity is relatively mild. Its latex can
cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. It is also
mildly irritating to the skin or stomach and may sometimes cause
diarrhea and vomiting if eaten. Sap introduced into the human eye may
cause temporary blindness.
American Journal of Emergency Medicine study of 22,793 cases
reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers showed
no fatalities, and furthermore that a strong majority of poinsettia
exposures are accidental, involve children, and usually do not result
in any type of medical treatment. POISINDEX, a major source for
poison control centers , says a 50 lb (23 kg) child would have to eat
500 bracts to accumulate levels of toxins found to be harmful in
Ohio State University
Ohio State University study showed no problems even
with extremely large doses.
* ^ Wells, John C. (1990). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.
Harlow, England: Longman. ISBN 0-582-05383-8 . entry "poinsettia"
* ^ "poinsettia". Dictionary.com. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
* ^ A B Bussell, Gene (December 2009). "Get Ready for Holiday
Southern Living . 44 (12): 88.
* ^ "Mexico".
United States Department of State
United States Department of State . Archived from the
original on November 30, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
* ^ "How To Make
Poinsettia Turn Red: Make A
Gardening Know How. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
* ^ A B C D E F G Seltzer, Erica D.; Spinner, MaryAnne. "Poinsettia
University of Illinois
University of Illinois Extension.
Retrieved January 30, 2017.
* ^ A B Bender, Steve, ed. (January 2004). "Euphorbia". The
Southern Living Garden Book (2nd ed.).
Birmingham, Alabama : Oxmoor
House . p. 306. ISBN 0-376-03910-8 .
* ^ Trejo, L., M. E. Olson, P. Feria, K. M. Olsen, L. E. Eguiarte,
B. Arroyo y J. A. Gruhn. 2012. "Poinsettia's wild ancestor in the
Mexican dry tropics: historical, genetic, and environmental evidence."
American Journal of Botany 99: 1146–1157.
* ^ A B Joel Roberts Poinsett. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia,
6th Edition . November 2011;:1. Available from: Academic Search
Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 8, 2012
* ^ "The Legends and Traditions of Holiday Plants Horticulture
and Home Pest News". www.ipm.iastate.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
* ^ Flowers Ireland Archived November 18, 2007, at the Wayback
* ^ The Legends and Traditions of Holiday Plants Horticulture and
Home Pest News
* ^ "\'The
Christmas Poinsettia\' Fine Art Print by Anne Gitto".
RedBubble. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
Poinsettia Day Bill of Congress
* ^ A B C Anton, Mike (December 23, 2008). "The bloom is off the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times . Retrieved December 28, 2008.
* ^ A B Cynthia Crossen, "Holiday's Ubiquitous Houseplant," Wall
Street Journal, December 19, 2000.
Poinsettia Day Industry
* ^ Perry, Leonard. "Fun Facts About Poinsettia". Perry's Perennial
University of Vermont
University of Vermont Extension, Department of Plant and Soil
Sciences. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
* ^ Smurfplant, Habitat
* ^ Lee; et al. (1997). "
Phytoplasma induced free branching in
commercial cultivars". 15.
Nature Biotechnology : 178–182.
* ^ A B "Poisonous Poinsettias".
Snopes.com . Retrieved December
* ^ Tom Eke, Sahar Al-Husainy ">(PDF ). Arch Ophthalmol. 118 (1):
13–16. PMID 10636407 . doi :10.1001/archopht.118.1.13 .
* ^ "Latex Allergy? Beware Poinsettias".
WebMD . Retrieved January
* ^ "Are
Poinsettia Plants Poisonous? Fact or Fiction?". Retrieved
December 21, 2007.
* ^ "Complete
Poinsettia information from Drugs.com".
Retrieved November 29, 2008.
* ^ Krenzelok EP, Jacobsen TD, Aronis JM (November 1996).
Poinsettia exposures have good outcomes...just as we thought". Am J
Emerg Med . 14 (7): 671–4. PMID 8906768 . doi
* ^ "
Poinsettia Care in the Home". Archived from the original on
June 7, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2010.