( EUPHORBIACEAE) Poinsettia
One of the most popular plants in many homes over the Christmas holiday season, is the Poinsettia. It was first introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, the first U. S. ambassador to Mexico.
He took cuttings from a beautiful shrub he found growing next to a road, in the wilds of southern Mexico, and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina.
With the introduction of long-lasting cultivars, the popularity of the poinsettia increased so William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give the plant Euphorbia pulcherrima 1 a new name. He named the plant in honor of Joel Poinsetts discovery of it.
The showy colored part of poinsettias that most people think are the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves). The actual flowers or cyathia of the poinsettia are in the center of the colorful bracts.
To check the poinsettia's maturity, examine the true flowers which are located at the base of the colored bracts. If the flowers are green or red-tipped and fresh looking the bloom will last longer than if yellow pollen is covering the flowers. A fresh poinsettia is one on which little or no yellow pollen is showing on the flower clusters in the center of the bracts.
SELECTING A POINSETTIA
Some factors influencing the length of time your plant will remain vibrant include the maturity of the plant, when you buy it, and how you treat the plant. With proper care, poinsettias should retain their beauty for weeks and some varieties will stay attractive for months.
1 The botanical name, Euphorbia Pulcherrima, meaning "very beautiful" was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow.