History of A Poinsettia

Happy Monday Everybody!!!

Firstly, I wanted to talk a little bit about WHY this series idea CAME to me one day! I was sitting in my brand new porch area, at our house in the country and I put a few of my house plants in the room, one of them being a Poinsettia! When I was looking around the room, I just randomly caught myself ADMIRING this plant so much. Weird. Where I live MOST PEOPLE, only get them during the Christmas Holiday Season and then after they start dying back or even after the holidays altogether, they just throw them out and wait till the next year to get another one (similar to mini eggs at Easter ... at least here in Canada). So, then I was thinking, its the beginning of summer, why do I even still have my poinsettia, well, I still have it because it started putting out new leaves and I got super excited, so I decided to keep it. BUT THEN, the day I was admiring it in my new porch, I thought to myself "why do we, in north America, just throw this beautiful plant out?", "why do greenhouses only carry it during the Christmas season", "why is it even associated with Christmas anyway?". This is the moment I realized I wanted to educate MYSELF and all of your guys as well on the History of House Plants!


poinsettia[ poin-set-ee-uh, -set-uh ]
Back in the year 1834, the poinsettia was first introduced in the Central American part of the world, otherwise known as Mexico. Being known for it's beautiful red and green leaves, & is correlated with the Christmas Holiday. One human who will be brought up several times today is Joel Roberts Poinsettia, who is said to have first introduced this plant in the US in the 1820's. Joel, was the first United States minister to Mexico and a botanist.


Prior to the name "Poinsettia" this plant was known as the "Mexican Flame Flower" or the "Painted Leaf". Cultivation of the plant took place when Joel sent the plant BACK to his greenhouses in South Carolina, although not verifiable, the Aztecs were the first humans to fully cultivate the Poinsettia. Like I mentioned above, this plant is GLOBALLY used as a Christmas themed plant, with that being said the industry is HUGE. In a period of only 6 weeks, this plant rakes in a total of 250 Million USD while the industry ITSELF has a face value of roughly 5 Million USD annually.

Albert Ecke, a man from Germany who immigrated to Los Angeles in the 1900's, became captivated with the beauty of this plant and started selling them on road side stands. It was not until the 2nd generation of "Ecke's" to want to Graft then into different varieties and finally, the 3rd generation being Mr. Paul Ecke, whom was responsible for giving them an association between the plant and Christmas itself. Paul began doing what most entrepreneurs do, try to get his name out there!!! He started to contact news channels, television channel for them to display them in front of the camera weather that be on a desk, in the background or just on a kitchen table in TV show series, this is what made the poinsettia TAKE OFF! In 2008, Paul Ecke the Third stopped production to the US but they still served about 70 percent of the domestic market and 50 percent of the worldwide market.


NOW! onto the fun part for me! Talking about all the other aspects of this beautiful plant. I'm first going to start off with talking about the Toxicity of this plant to both humans and house pets such as cats and dogs. TO THIS DAY, many people believe this plant to be HIGHLY poisonous to humans and animals, this was spread by a interesting rumor back in the early years of 1900's, claiming a 2 year old had ingested a leaf and died from it. Throughout the years many other scientists did their own studies and found that it WAS in fact poisonous. In the 80's, the US food and drug administration claimed it was HIGHLY POISONOUS and ONE leaf can kill a child, therefor making them illegal to be used or brought into hospitals or nursing homes. Many other studies and tests were done on both humans and rats, with not just one, two or 10 leaves, but as high as 500 leaves consumed. WITH NO REACTIONS WHATSOEVER! this is highly interesting to me, and also concerning for what they say current day about this plant. What that say today is that it is poisonous, but not really pretty much, IF ingested you will likely become sick with vomiting, lots of pooping and exposure to the skin can cause rash, and itching.

...please don't touch the leaves, eat the leaves, or cook with the leaves whatsoever. The studies in my opinion after researching this particular plant are so wishy washy it concerns me. KEEP OUT OF REACH for children and pets, I am thankful I have no pets where I normally KEEP this plant, and my Toddler rarely touches my plants anymore, but to be safe will always be in a spot where she CANNOT reach it!!

NEXT, I'm going to dive into the wonderful world of how it was used medicinally to the Aztec People. These lovely humans used the RED DYE as a antipyretic medication... I had to look that word up because I didn't know what it meant... if you're like me and have no idea, it means they used the dye for FEVERS, so similar to any fever medication you would take today. Legend has it that a little girl was to bring a gift to a family meal to celebrate the birth of Jesus and stumbled upon weeds and flowers along a roadside and was then placed in front of the alter at church services during Christmas time.


On December 12th,1851 Joel Roberts Poinsett's died and this day was forever known as "National Poinsettia Day" in North America.

Now the LARGE question that still is on my brain... "what to do with the plant after Christmas?" WELL, I think this will 100% just fall onto what you want to do with that plant! I know, not that interested of an Answer! if you want to keep it sentimental and only for a Christmas tradition, then simply throw it out or give it away. If you would like to keep it as a house plant, do experiments on it and enjoy it throughout the remainder of the year, winter months and into spring time, I highly suggest cutting it all back and providing it with as much light and humidity you possibly can give it! The coloring on this plant is so bright, and as mine is variegated, you will need to provide it with a lot of light to avoid the plant reverting and not producing the bright red colors or any of the variegated leaves.


Thanks for joining me today on "history of a house plant" this is something that really brings me pure joy. Like I said earlier, I was completely fascinated with the fact I still had this fricken plant and why! cause I normally just throw them out. I am a 29 year old Mother who HATED school, HATED projects and researching and learning new things apparently, But with being engaged to be married to a HUMAN FREAKING DICTIONARY, David, who knows everything, seems to have got me super interested in looking up different things, such as the history of certain house plants. Nothing wrong with supersizing your brain now is there? Do you have a Poinsettia all year long?, or do you just get yours during the Christmas season?
most photos and information were stock images and research from google, i do not own the rights to them. For pleasure and educational purposes only

Until Next time...

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