Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

A little early in the season, perhaps, but this poinsettia photo comes from a collection of photos I took in 2002. I often return to my archives to find good examples of flowers and plants I haven’t highlighted before here in Garden Alphabet. We actually have one poinsettia from a few years ago that has survived and thrived over the years and should be on track for a turn towards the red (the leaves are usually green) just in time for the Christmas holidays.

Garden Alphabet: Poinsettia

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The poinsettia (/pɔɪnˈsɛtiə/ or /pɔɪnˈsɛtə/)[1][2] (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a culturally and commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett,[3] the first United States Minister to Mexico,[4] who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres (2 ft 0 in–13 ft 1 in). The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres (2.8–6.3 in) in length. The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.[5]

The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia.

The poinsettia is native to Mexico.[6] It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forest at moderate elevations from southernSinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of GuerreroOaxaca, and Chiapas.[7] Reports of E. pulcherrima growing in the wild in Nicaragua and Costa Rica have yet to be confirmed by botanists.[8]

There are over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia.[9][10] — Wikipedia

More information on Poinsettia:

Previously in Garden Alphabet: