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).