All about Poinsettias

Poinsettias seem to be everywhere this time of year. Did you know…

  • Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were used as decorative plants by the Aztecs. Though they are now used as winter holiday decoration, they are actually tropical plants that are sensitive to cold (Park Brown 2013).
  • Poinsettias were introduced in 1825 by the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, the poinsettia’s namesake (Park Brown 2013; Miller 2014).
  • In addition to the traditional red, poinsettias come in a variety of colors and patterns, including pink, white, and speckled (Park Brown 2013; UF/IFAS Communications 2013).
  • The colorful portion of the plant is actually not a flower but a collection of leaves called bracts (Park Brown 2013).
  • Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are NOT poisonous to humans or pets, though some people and animals may be mildly allergic to the poinsettia’s white sap (Park Brown 2013; Wichman 2013).
  • UF/IFAS grows nearly 100 varieties of poinsettias for research and sale (UF/IFAS Communications 2013).
  • Seventy million poinsettias are sold in the U.S. each year (UF/IFAS Virtual Field Day 2014).

Further Reading and Resources


Miller, C. 2014. “The Poinsettia, in the Shadow of the Christmas Tree.” Accessed November 16, 2015. http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/12/18/the-poinsettia-in-the-shadow-of-the-christmas-tree/

Park Brown, S. 2013. Poinsettias at a Glance. ENH1983. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences. Accessed November 16, 2015. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep349

UF/IFAS Communications. “UF/IFAS Poinsettia Plant Sale.” UF/IFAS Solutions for Your Life video, 2:31. Posted December 5, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE_ksjWmkT0

UF/IFAS Virtual Field Day. “Poinsettias.” Accessed November 16, 2015. http://vfd.ifas.ufl.edu/poinsettias.shtml

Wichman, Tom, and UF/IFAS Communications. “Potentially Toxic Holiday Plants.” UF/IFAS Solutions for Your Life video, 3:00. Posted December 12, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIU6gJns3gg&list=PLbnrETfHgIuhEDjzDZdb5D6NL8HeB7xfw&index=4

Photo credit: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS