Saturday, December 12, 2015

Happy National Poinsettia Day!

The poinsettia wasn't always known as the Christmas plant. The history of the poinsettia or Cuetlaxochit, goes back to the early 1800's. 

The beautiful red plant originally was known in Central America, and thrived in areas such as Southern New Mexico. The plant was around way before Christianity even set foot in region.  The ancient Aztecs found it blooming in the tropical highlands during the very short days of winter and named it “Cuetlaxochitl.” The plant wasn't always know for its decorative qualities, but rather practical. They used the white sap as a fever reducer and would draw the purple dye from the plant in the making of cosmetics. 

If it wasn't for Joel Roberts Poinsett, we would never know about the plant! Poinsett was a medical school graduate and had a passion for botany. While visiting Mexico he fell in love with the plant and sent a few home to start working on propagating. The plant was quickly sold and was known as Poinsettia in most English speaking countries. The plant was also cultivated into a smaller plant VS it's natural state as a tree! 

Today the Christmas Poinsettia grows naturally for a very short time around the Holiday season in Mexico. The Poinsettia is now one of the most important floricultural crops in the country, according to many professional botanists and at present poinsettia production is valued at approximately $9 million annually and involves over 700 producers statewide. December 12th is now celebrated as National Poinsettia Day, marking the date of Poinsett’s death, celebrating his life and his discovery, and noting his unfathomable enjoyment of the lush plants. And, just as Poinsett would have it; the Poinsettia, whether white, red or pink, remains one of the most frequently sold and delivered Christmas Christmas decorations in America during the holiday season.

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