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Poinsettia- Christmas Flower

Updated on September 16, 2013

The poinsettia is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, who served as the USA first ambassador to Mexico from 1825 to 1829. At the time of his appointment Mexico was involved in a Civil War.

During his stay in Mexico he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species, In 1828 he came to admire a beautiful indigenous plant with a large scarlet leaves encircling small, greenish yellow blossoms, growing next to a road. He like it so much that he took cutting from the plant and sent them back to South Carolina, USA where they soon flourished.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

A Mexican legend tells how the Poinsettia became a Christmas flower. A poor peasant girl was anxious to bring a gift in honour of the Virgin Mary to the Christmas Eve service.

She had nothing of value though so she went empty-handed. On her way to church she met an angel who told her to pick some weeds. She did so and with a heavy heart and a feeling of shame placed them on the altar. Miraculously, they were transformed into the bright scarlet flower.

Ever since, Poinsettias have been popular decorations for churches and homes during the Christmas festival. The Mexicans had adopted the Poinsettias as their Christmas flower.

Today Poinsettias come in many colours and variations than the traditional red. Other colour of Poinsettias include white, cream, pink and peach.

The red petals of the plant are often mistaken for flowers when in fact, they are bracts or modified leaves.

12 December - National Poinsettia Day

Did you know?

The Poinsettia has a special day. By the Act of Congress, December 12 was set aside as National Poinsettia Day to mark the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett who was credited with introducing the native plant to the USA.

The purpose of the day is to enjoy the beauty of this popular holiday plant.


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      KJ 6 years ago

      I thought it is the flower because a poor little boy gave his mother some twigs he found to his mom and then they turned to beautiful flowers (poinsettia). ;-)

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      johnny yuma1 9 years ago

      All I knew about Poinsettias were that they are a Christmas flower. Thank you for this information. I had no idea that we have a poinsettia day.

      johnny yuma

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      jim10 9 years ago from ma

      Thanks, I knew they were a part of Christmas. But never knew why.