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Myths about Poinsettia

The holidays are here and that means the flower shops, garden centers and many homes are filled with poinsettias.  No need to worry, this plant is non-toxic.

Yes, it’s true.  Research by Universities and Poison control centers reveal this plant is non-toxic.  You still shouldn’t eat it, but you can enjoy this beauty throughout the holidays.

It was named for Joel Poinsett, a U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in the 1820’s.  He happened upon a blooming poinsettia shrub while in Mexico and brought cuttings back to the United States.

The legend of the Poinsettia is also of Mexican origin.  It is said on the first Christmas two small children wanted to visit the baby Jesus, but were too poor to buy him a present.  So they picked weeds along the road to decorate his crib.  The other children made fun of their gift, that is, until their gift of love, turned a beautiful red.

A bit more information: The part of the poinsettia we call the flowers are really bracts, modified leaves.  These holiday favorites were first grown and sold by nurseryman John Bartram.  In the early 1900’s the Ecke family in Southern California started growing and selling them as landscape and cut flowers and became the leading poinsettia producer.  I was lucky enough to spend a summer propagating, caring for and shipping poinsettia cuttings for this company.


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