Interesting Facts About Poinsettias

The poinsettia, which is a popular, colorful winter holiday plant, dates back to the Aztecs during the 15th century. Celebrate the season by learning these surprising facts about this festive plant known for its vibrant color.

  • Poinsettias are native to Mexico where they are known as “La Flor de la Nochebuena” or “Flower of Christmas Eve.”
  • Poinsettia Day is celebrated on December 12 to commemorate Joel Roberts Poinsett—the U.S. ambassador who introduced the plant to the United States in the early 19th century.
  • Poinsettias are also popular in Mexico on December 12, where the plants are used during the celebration of the Lady of Guadalupe.
  • In the United States, poinsettias were named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, which is the reason the plant name is sometimes capitalized.
  • Euphorbia heterophylla is Florida’s native poinsettia plant.
  • Poinsettias aren’t poisonous or toxic, but the latex in poinsettia sap may cause irritation to those with latex allergies.
  • Although the poinsettia is called the lobster flower and the flame-flower because of its red color, the red parts of poinsettias are actually petal-like leaves called bracts.
  • Poinsettias can grow up to 12 feet tall in the wild.
  • There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias with bracts in an array of colors including white, orange, and purple.
  • Poinsettias are the best-selling plotted plants in the United States and the most popular Christmas plants.
Adapted and excerpted from:

E. Seltzer, “Poinsettia Facts,” University of Illinois Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

Poinsettias,” UF/IFAS Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

Poinsettia Fun Facts,” UF/IFAS Suwannee County Extension (Accessed 12/2014).

The Meaning of Poinsettias,” EPA Blog (12/2012).