How Well Do You Know the Familiar Poinsettia?

OK, students: Here’s your question of the day: What color are the flowers of the Poinsettia?

A: red; B: white; C: yellow; D: pink?

(I won’t confuse the matter with the choices “all of the above” or “none of the above”.)

Here’s a clue, though: the binomial for the poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima.

Named after Joel R. Poinsett of South Carolina, this Mexican shrub is adorned with very large and conspicuous vermilion bracts below the yellowish flowers. With the exception of the flowers of E. millii, which have been cultivated to have larger, showier flowers of different colors, the flowers of nearly all euphorbias are inconspicuous, yellow knobs: Certainly nothing to write home about. The beautiful colors of red and pink, white and variegated white and pink, are in the showy bracts (modified leaves) surrounding the flower cluster.

Another characteristic of the Euphorbia is the presence of a toxic, milky sap, which oozes at any wound site.

Everyone is familiar with these lovely Christmas treasures on the market. But I have found some images of Poinsettias in the wild, mountainous habitat near Chiappas, Mexico. Check out this link for more information about Pointesttia in the wild – Explore Life On Earth.

Researched and written by Terri.


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