Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) - Classic Red Variety
The Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) has a fascinating history that dates back to pre-Columbian Mexico. The plant was originally known by the Aztecs as "Cuetlaxochitl," which means "flower that withers, mortal flower" in the Nahuatl language. The Aztecs used the plant for various purposes, including as a dye for textiles and in traditional medicine.
Poinsettias gained popularity as a festive decoration and symbol of the holiday season in the United States in the early 1800s, when the first US Ambassador to Mexico brought the plant back to the states. December 12th, the day honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, also coincided with the blooming period of poinsettias, further enhancing its significance during the Christmas season. Over time poinsettias became (and remain!!) the best selling houseplant of all time.
As a houseplant, poinsettias are valued for their colorful bracts (modified leaves) that surround the small, inconspicuous flowers. These bracts come in various shades, including scarlet red, pink, white, and even multicolored varieties! While they are typically purchased during the holiday season, many people discard them after flowering. However, with proper care, poinsettias can be kept year round and encouraged to bloom again the following year!