Posted by: ktzefr | December 18, 2010

10 Fun Facts About Poinsettias

1)  Poinsettias are native to Mexico.

2)  Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, had caravans of poinsettias brought into Mexico City because they would not grow in the high altitudes.

3)  Joel Robert Poinsett introduced the poinsettia to the US in 1828.  Poinsett was the first US ambassador to Mexico (appointed by John Quincy Adams).  He discovered the beautiful red-flowering shrub in the Mexican countryside and brought back cuttings to his own greenhouse in South Carolina.

4)  There are 100 varieties of poinsettias available today.

5)  84% of Americans prefer red poinsettias while the rest like white or pink.

6)  80% of poinsettias are purchased by women.

7)  California is the top poinsettia producing state.

8)  Poinsettias are not poisonous.

9)  Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states.

10) Poinsettia shrubs in nature can grow ten feet tall.

I don’t recall poinsettias being all that popular when I was growing up in Kentucky.  Christmas was all about the tree, holly, and mistletoe.  In the days before Christmas we went to the woods and searched for a tree.  Most of the evergreens growing in the wild had prickly needles and the tree decorating could sometimes turn into a painful chore.  It was a special treat, however, to discover a holly tree filled with lots of red berries.  And the mistletoe, an epiphyte, grew way up in the treetops and about the only way to gather it was to shoot at it.  The pieces flew in every direction and scattered across the forest floor.  At home we tied the clumps of leaves together with ribbon.

I don’t recall the first time I bought a poinsettia plant, but it was probably after moving to the city.   I do remember the first time I saw huge poinsettia shrubs.  It was in the middle of winter many years ago on one of the Hawaiian islands.   I still love discovering them growing freely in gardens in the tropics, rather than cramped in little plastic pots at the supermarket.

For more facts, history, and general info about poinsettias, click HERE to see The Poinsettia Pages at the University of Illinois Extension.

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