The Poinsettia is known as the “Christmas star” or the "Christmas flower." It is also the December birth flower.
This winter flower’s association with Christmas comes from a Mexican legend. The legend is told that a child with no means has to take a gift to a Christmas eve church service.
Being penniless, the child picked weeds from the side of the road. The congregation witnessed a miracle when the weeds turned into beautiful red and green flowers on the altar. These weeds, of course, turned out to be the poinsetta.
The poinsettia's botanical name is eurphorbia pulcherrima. It was named by a German botanist named Wilenow.
The plant gained popularity in the 1820’s largely thanks to Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was appointed the first United States ambassador to Mexico.
An avid botanist, Poinsett wandered the countryside looking for new species of plants. He discovered a beautiful shrub by the side of the road. He took cuttings of the shrub and returned to his greenhouse in South Carolina. This shrub turned out to be the poinsettia.
Although Poinsett was an outstanding congressman and as an ambassador he will always be remembered for bringing the poinsettia to the United States.
By the 1900's the Ecke family of Southern California grew poinsettia for landscape plants. Eventually the family grew poinsettias in their greenhouses and scaled down the size of these plants for commercial use.
To this day they are recognized as a leading producer of poinsettas in the U.S.
In the “language” of flowers, red, white or pink poinsettias symbolize good cheer and success and are said to bring wishes of celebration.
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