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5 Fun Facts About Poinsettias

Dec 07, 2016

The weather is cooling down and the holidays are right around the corner. Storefronts are packed with glittery garland and homes are overflowing with holiday décor. Friends and families are flocking to the nearest farms and gardens for Christmas trees and other festive flora, including poinsettias.

But what do you really know about the poinsettia? Where did it come from? Why has it become the poster child plant of Christmas? If you fancy some fun facts about Christmas’ most popular flower species, here are five tidbits to satisfy your curiosity.

1. Where did the poinsettia come from?

The poinsettia originally hails from Southern Mexico. A man named Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico and an amateur botanist, found a shrub with bright red leaves on a roadside in Taxco, Mexico, and sent it to his plantation in Greenville, SC. It was originally labeled as a weed, but Dr. Poinsett kept studying and breeding it, and it eventually became accepted as a holiday plant, despite its short breeding time.

2. Is the poinsettia only red?

No! Although red is the most popular color (followed by white and pink), poinsettia varieties range from classic crimson to salmon, yellow, apricot, cream, and even marbled. New varieties are introduced each year.

3. Why is the poinsettia used at Christmas?

The poinsettia blooms in December, and people in southern Mexico have spent centuries using it to decorate churches. The Aztecs believed that red was the symbol of purity, so poinsettias were traditionally used as part of religious ceremonies. In Mexico and Guatemala, the poinsettia is known as “Flower of the Holy Night” (Christmas Eve).

4. How many poinsettias are sold each year?

More than 34 million poinsettias are sold in a year’s time, accounting for 23 percent of all potted plant sales. In fact, it is the highest-selling potted plant in the U.S.

5. Which U.S. state grows the most poinsettias?

California’s warm climate makes the state the top poinsettia producer, with more than 6 million grown. North Carolina is next, followed by Texas, Florida and Ohio.

Although many Americans are accustomed to this ubiquitous emblem of Christmastime, there is much to learn about its vivid history, symbolism, and more. We look forward to sending you home with a beautiful poinsettia this season -- and don’t forget to celebrate National Poinsettia Day on December 12!



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