Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are native to Mexico. The were brought to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. He was appointed by President John Quincy Adams in the 1820’s. He was also an avid amateur botanist who collected plant specimins to bring back home. As you may guess by their name, poinsettias were renamed in this country after the ambassador because of his great love and promotion of the plant.
In Mexico, the common name for the plant is La Flor de la Nochebueana, or flower of the Holy Night, and it is displayed each Dec. 12, which is the Dia de la Virgen Guadalupe. Dec. 12 in the U.S. is, by act of Congress, National Poinsettia Day, which has its own Website. This day is also the anniversary of Poinsett’s death in 1851.
Cultivars and breeders love the poinsettia. They have developed an amazing number of variations of poinsettias. Some of them are quite striking. They have come a long way from the humble wild poinsettia of Mexico. Be sure to read up on the Blue Poinsettia on my website.
Here is a gallery of beautiful poinsettias.