Skip to main content

Poinsettia Fun Facts

Test Your Knowledge on Poinsettia Plant Fun Facts

Which of the statements below are true or false about poinsettia plants?
1. National Poinsettia Day is December 12th.
2. Florida has a native poinsettia plant, Euphorbia heterophylla.
3. The Poinsettia plant is poisonous if ingested.
4. The Aztecs used the poinsettia leaves to dye fabric and the sap for medicinal purposes.
5. California is the top producer of Poinsettia’s in the United States.
6. The poinsettia’s main attraction is its red flowers.
7. Poinsettia’s can grow to 12 feet high.

Fun Facts About Poinsettia Plants

The genus Euphorbia, to which the Poinsettia Plant belongs is related to 1600 other
species.   The same genus contains Gopher Spurge (E. lathyris) which supposed to repel moles and other critters.  Other relatives are Snow-on-the-mountain (E. marginata) and Crown of Thorns (E. milli). Poinsettia plants are the best selling flowering plant during the holiday season. With so many colors and hundreds of varieties, it is challenging to pick just one favorite.

Selecting and Caring for Your Poinsettia Plants

Fresh poinsettia plants have little or no yellow pollen  showing on the flower clusters in the center of the bracts. Plants that have shed their pollen will soon drop their colorful bracts or leaves. Also, avoid purchasing plants that are wilted and have battered leaves.

To prolong the life of a poinsettia plant, avoid placing it in hot or cold drafts. They are highly sensitive to cold temperatures. Even a few minutes of exposure will cause the leaf and bract to discolor, wilt and drop.

Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Drying out will cause premature leaf loss. Give them a bright location but no direct sunlight when they are in bloom. Ideal temperatures are 70-75 degrees F during the day and 60-65 degrees F during the night. To grow them beyond the holiday season fertilize them once a month.  Want to learn more?  Go to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep349

Answers to the Poinsettia Plant Quiz

1. True – National Poinsettia Day, December 12th was designated by Act of Congress to honor Dr. Joel Poinsett.  He was an amateur botanist and the first Ambassador to Mexico. He first introduced the plant into the US in 1828.

2. True –  Florida’s native poinsettia is Euphorbia heterophylla.  It has several common names. such as: wild poinsettia, painted poinsettia, Mexican fire-plant and fire-on-the-mountain. Some people see them wildflowers and ornamentals while other people call them weeds. It is a noxious pest for peanut growers in Georgia.

3. False – At one time, poinsettia plants were believed to be poisonous if ingested. However, after testing repeatedly, the beliefs were proven false by the National Poison Center in Atlanta, Georgia and by the American Medical Association. If ingested, this plant can cause stomach irritation and discomfort. Individuals who are sensitive to rubber plant latex should take care when handling this plant. Research found that 40% of those allergic to latex, were also allergic to the  milky sap of the poinsettia plant.

Did You Know?

4. True – From the 14th to the 16th centuries, the Aztecs used the poinsettia leaves to dye fabric for clothing and the sap to help control fevers. They considered the red color a symbol of purity and so poinsettias were traditionally a part of their religious ceremonies.

5. True – Although every state in the United States grows poinsettias commercially, California is the top producer followed by Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan. The Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California was established in 1923 and continues today. Approximately 80% of all the flowering poinsettias in the USA and 50% of the poinsettias worldwide get their start at the Paul Ecke Ranch.

6. False – Lastly, Poinsettia’s modified leaves are the main attraction, not its flowers. Flowers of the plant are the yellow/green clustered buds in t he center. The colored leafy parts are bracts or modified leaves. Traditional red remains the most popular color which accounts for roughly three quarters of all sales nationwide. The next popular color is white followed by pink.

7. True – In the wild, poinsettia’s can reach heights of 12 feet tall. Leaves can be six to eight inches across. It is  considered a small tropical tree. The Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) name means“very beautiful”, It is a native of southern Mexico. Because it blooms in December, poinsettias have been used to decorate churches for centuries.

2 Comments on “Poinsettia Fun Facts

  1. The red Poinsettia still dominates over other color options. ‘Prestige Red’–one of many poinsettias patented by Ecke–ranks among the best-selling hybrids.

  2. Fortunately, Poinsett continued to study and breed this plant in his greenhouse, sharing plants with his horticulturist friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *