Poinsettia

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), also known as the Mexican flame leaf, Christmas star, Noche Buena or Pascua, is a sub-tropical plant known for its striking red displays at Christmas time.

Poinsettias are traditional Christmas plant. When the British shop for turkeys, crackers and presents, they also pick up a poinsettia. The plants vivid red bracts (leaves) have become associated with Santa's coat and robins' breasts.

Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where the Aztecs used them in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries both for medicinal purposes and for making dye.

Poinsettias are 'short day plants', meaning they flower when there are less than 12 hours' daylight, to ensure the minimum of competitors of pollinating insects.

The coloured red leaves surround the base of the tiny flower heads and are designed to attract insects that might otherwise overlook the flowers.

Did you Know? Poinsettia Day is on December 12th. It was declared in honour of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, whom the plant is named after.