The Legend of the Poinsettia
Poinsettias (Euphorbia Pulcherrima) are a tropical shrubs, which have about 100 different species and reach heights of up to 12 feet tall in their natural habitat. The Aztecs used poinsettias to dye clothing and cure fevers [source: Perry]. Poinsettias were also used in Aztec religious ceremonies since the Aztecs considered the color red a symbol of purity.
Many mistake the poinsettia’s leaves as flower petals, but the flowers are actually the smaller, yellow buds in a poinsettia’s center. These bracts — the upper portion of the leaves — are famously red, although they actually bloom in a variety of hues, such as pink, white and yellow. Poinsettias, also known as the “lobster flower” or “Mexican flame leaf,” bloom in December, making them an ideal holiday flower.
Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States from Mexico. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. December 12th is Poinsettia Day, which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.
Several traditions can be found involving the poinsettia, including this one “Flower of the Holy Night.”
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