Poinsettia - -- Photo Courtesy Lisa Greene, AAF, AIFD, PFCIPoinsettias are a traditional holiday plant that bring color and life to home décor. They last the whole season and are harbingers of spring plants to come. Here are some interesting facts about the poinsettia.

  • John Quincy Adams is responsible for bringing the poinsettia to America. Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia to the United States in 1825, but it was JQA who appointed Poinsett as our first ambassador to Mexico.
  • December 12th is National Poinsettia Day and was established in 1851 to honor Joel Roberts Poinsett.
  • Poinsettia - Photo Courtesy Lisa Greene, AAF, AIFD, PFCIPoinsettias have been proven to be non-toxic by a study at Ohio State University. All parts of the plant were tested, including the leaves and sap. And according to POISINDEX, the national information center for poison control centers, a child would have to ingest 500-600 leaves in order to exceed the experimental doses that found no toxicity. Poinsettias do emit a milky sap that can irritate the skin of people with latex allergies. The poinsettia should be kept out of reach of curious pets as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that the plant could be “irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.”
  • In their native environment, poinsettias grow like shrubs and can reach heights of 10-15 feet.Poinsettia - Photo Courtesy Lisa Greene, AAF, AIFD, PFCI
  • The enchanting legend of the poinsettia dates back several centuries, to a Christmas Eve in Mexico when a little girl named Pepita had no gift to present to the Christ child. Her cousin Pedro urged her to give a humble gift. So, on her way to church she gathered some weeds she found along the road. As she approached the altar, a miracle happened: The weeds blossomed into brilliant flowers. Then they were called Flores de Noche Buena – Flowers of the Holy Night. Now they are called poinsettias.
  • The poinsettia is part of the “Spurge” family, botanically named Euphorbiaceae. Its name is Euphorbia pulcherrima.
  • Poinsettia - Photo Courtesy Lisa Greene, AAF, AIFD, PFCIThe big colorful part of the poinsettia plant we all think of as a flower is not a flower at all. These show-offs surround the flower that is hiding in the center of these colorful bracts. Look at them closely when choosing your plant: plump green or red-tipped flowers are preferable. Avoid choosing those that are yellow pollen covered.
  • There are hundreds of varieties of poinsettias, in several sizes, shapes and colors. Classic white, pink, burgundy, marbled, speckled, not to mention designer surface treatments that yield blue, purple, turquoise and even glitter.
  • Poinsettias are easy houseplants to care for.
  • In the language of flowers, the poinsettia symbolizes cheer and joy.

Share these poinsettia factoids with family, friends and co-workers over eggnog, and visit your local florist or greenhouse to bring home this trendy plant for the holidays.

What do you find most interesting about the poinsettia?