Dabs of colour

Chances are that in every store and home you enter these days in Canada and the United States you’ll see displays of potted Poinsettia – Euphorbia pulcherrima. Statistics say it is the most sold potted plant for Christmas holidays. I have to give them credit – it is impressive seeing potted grown, brightly coloured Poinsettias.

I was most amazed though when I saw it growing in its natural habitat in Mexico – and completely understood the reaction Joel R. Poinsett had a long time ago. Appointed the first American minister to Mexico in 1825, he also had a keen interest in botany and in one of his trips to an area south of Mexico City, he stopped to collect cuttings from a roadside growing Euphorbia pulcherrima. Maybe the plant was looking something like this:

Euphorbia pulcherrima

Euphorbia pulcherrima – flowering during the dry season in Mexico. As probably known, the ornamental red bracts, are transformed leaves, which in conditions of short days turn red having the role of attracting pollinators to the inconspicuous, small, yellow flowers. In Mexico it is called Flor de Buena Noce- Christmas Eve Flower and it is also used in Christmas decorations.

By 1836 the plant was already known in the States under the name Poinsettia. The rest is horticultural history, and although under a different form, today we enjoy about 108 Poinsettia varieties, in red, pink, cream and other (sometimes weird) colour combinations. If not for the present winter storm, we would have bought ours today, but for now these dabs of colour will suffice…

Euphorbia pulcherrima 1