In winter, when trees and fauna lie dormant, it makes all of our plant decorations even more beautiful. Along with evergreens, Poinsettias have become a symbol of the Christmas season. It’s not quite Christmas until you see a host of potted Poinsettias lining walkways, displayed at the mall, and on everyone’s doorstep. But did you know that today, December 12th has been declared by the U.S. Congress as Poinsettia Day? Here’s a few more interesting historical facts about one of our favorite Christmas plants!
- The poinsettia plant is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was an American botanist, physician, and the Minister in Mexico. In 1828 he sent a few cuttings of the soon to be called Poinsettia plant home to Charleston, South Carolina. The scientific name for the plant is Euphorbia pulcherrima.
- Californian Paul Ecke Jr. developed a technique to help Poinsettia plants branch and graft better, and it is because of him that the Poinsettia industry has flourished in the U.S. Poinsettias are grown in every state in the union, but California still grows the most.
- Poinsettia Day was declared to be every December 12th. Supposedly this is because it coincides with the date of Joel Roberts Poinsett’s death; however, December 12th is also the day of a Mexican celebration, in which Poinsettias have long played a role. In Mexico December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a celebration of the Virgin Mary. In fact, in Mexico, Poinsettias are often called La Flor de Nochebuena, or the Holy Night flower.
- Poinsettias have been used to celebrate Christmas in Mexico since the 1600s.
- The colorful part of the Poinsettia (red, pink, or white) is not actually the flower but a modified leaf called a bract.
If you’ve already got a Poinsettia in your home celebrate it today by singing it a little carol, and if you’ve haven’t got one- go get one! They’re full of Christmas cheer.
If you’re not terribly great at keeping plants alive but you still want to celebrate Poinsettia Day with one of these lovely plants check out this Paper Poinsettia DIY from The House That Lars Built.