DEC Exclusive Plant: 'Poinsettia' — Four Surprising Facts About Poinsettias
The bright red and green poinsettia is a famous Christmas plant. You've probably seen it already this year. But do you really know much about poinsettias? Let's see which of these impressions is accurate:
- More than just red flowers?
- Can grow taller than a person?
- Belongs to winter plants?
Start to uncover the answers and find out which fact about poinsettias surprises you the most!
Answer: (X), Poinsettias are not poisonous.
The origin of this myth is unclear, but there's a false belief that a child died from eating a poinsettia out of curiosity. The urban legend likely stems from the fact that most plants in the Euphorbia genus, to which poinsettias belong, are almost toxic. Additionally, the English name "Poinsettia," bears some resemblance to the word "Poison." Another factor may be its vibrant appearance, which might lead people to assume that all beautiful organisms are dangerous.
While poinsettias are not actually poisonous, their milky white sap can potentially cause allergic reactions in some individuals or pets. If a poinsettia is accidentally broken or touched, it's advisable to wash the affected area promptly. Like many decorative plants, poinsettias are not meant to be eaten and can result in stomach discomfort or even vomiting if ingested. However, those who have tasted poinsettias report that they are very bitter and difficult to swallow, making it unlikely for children or animals to consume large quantities.
2. More than just red flowers?
Answer: (X), this is a trick question. The common red part is not a 'flower.'
Poinsettias do indeed come in various colors, but the main showy leaf-like part is not a petal, but rather a 'bract,' also known as a 'bract leaf.' Bracts are the outermost part of a flower's structure, and the true flowers of the poinsettia are the tiny yellow buds located at the center of the bract.
Poinsettia bracts can be found in a range of colors, including red, pink, creamy white, and even dual-toned variations. Some even feature distinctive patterns, with over 100 different varieties available. Bracts also come in various sizes, ranging from hand-sized to the size of a softball. Poinsettias can be used as eye-catching decorations on your Christmas dinner table or as festive mini potted plants to bring a holiday vibe to your workspace.
3. Can grow taller than a person?
Answer: (O), Poinsettias can grow up to approximately 4 meters.
During the Christmas season, you'll often find businesses and public places decorated with poinsettias to create a festive ambiance. The poinsettias we commonly see are usually potted plants that stand about 60 to 90 centimeters tall. However, in their native Mexico, poinsettias are actually medium-sized shrubs that can grow to heights of 3 to 4 meters.
The significant size difference between poinsettias in the United States and their native Mexico dates back to around 1829 when the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, introduced poinsettias to the United States.
Poinsett was also an amateur botanist, and he was captivated by the beauty of this vibrant red plant he encountered in Mexico. He sent some poinsettia plants back to the U.S., where they thrived. He was delighted to share these plants with botanical gardens and scholars across the country. This unique new plant gained popularity in the U.S., initially referred to as the 'Mexican Fire Plant,' but later renamed 'Poinsettia' in honor of Joel Poinsett. It was gradually cultivated into smaller plants and became a highly popular and bestselling Christmas decorative potted plant.
4. Belongs to winter plants?
Answer: (X), surprised? Poinsettias are actually tropical plants and are very sensitive to the cold.
Poinsettias are originally from Mexico, which makes them tropical plants. Interestingly, even before they were introduced to the United States, they held significance as a Christmas symbol dating back to the 17th century, originating from an ancient Mexican legend. The legend tells of a poor little girl named Pepita, who, on Christmas Eve, couldn't afford to prepare a gift. Sincerely devout, she gathered a bunch of weeds from the roadside to offer. The angels, sympathize with her plight, causing the weeds to burst into beautiful red flowers.Poinsettias are said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, which is why they are also known as the 'Flower of the Holy Night.'
If you've purchased a poinsettia this year, be sure not to expose it to low temperatures and chilly winds. Place it in a spot with plenty of sunlight, but avoid direct sunlight as it can cause the leaves to fade. When the soil feels dry to the touch, water the poinsettia by moistening the soil, but don't let the plant sit in water. With proper care, it might continue to thrive even after the holiday season comes to an end!
Ps. You might not have known...
Did you guess them correctly? Isn't it fascinating to discover all these interesting facts about poinsettias?
Have you also noticed that when you start a 7-day or 14-day trial of the full version of Plant Nanny, you can immediately plant the December limited edition plant called "Heart-warming Poinsettia"?This adorable plant is ready to happily hydrate with you, not only reminding you to stay adequately hydrated during the winter but also helping you maintain a natural rhythm of water intake during the easily forgotten hydration period of Christmas!