Today is a lovely tale of the legend of the poinsettia at Christmas!
Yesterday I spent a lovely hour or so wandering around a gorgeous garden centre in Surrey looking at all the Christmas decorations, trees and Christmas plants. The one thing that stood out was the dozens and dozens of bright red poinsettia in pretty pots complete with red ribbon garland for sale.
I sometimes get one in at Christmas but have never really known why we see Poinsettia as a Christmas plant!
I put my detective hat on and solved the question! At the same time I have found out how to look after them in case you too are the kiss of death to plants in the home!
The Poinsettia (poyn - set -ee - ah), is a native Mexican plant. It is a species of the romantically named "spurge" family!
|Joel Poinsett by Arthur Ide.|
The plant however became associated with Christmas at least three hundred years before this, back in Mexico. Remember how the shepherds were poor and couldn't give grand gifts to the new born Jesus? Well, similarly a young girl in Mexico called Maria or sometimes Pepita, couldn't afford to leave a gift at her local church door to celebrate Christmas.
As she pondered her situation an angel told her to collect some weeds from the roadside and plant them by the church door. She did and from these weeds a beautiful crimson leaved Poinsettia grew. This miracle saw the plant being named Flores de Noche Buena, Flowers of the Holy Night. After this Monks, (Franciscan), in Mexico began using the plant in their Christmas celebrations. If you look at the plant it is not difficult to see how it came to play such an important part of Christmas. The shape of the leaves resemble the Star of Bethlehem and the crimson leaves are seen as the blood of Christ.
Are Poinsettia poison?
They are not dangerous to have in the home. Back in 1919 it was reported that a young child had died through eating a Poinsettia leaf. This spread panic and created a misconception. A child weighing 50lbs would need to eat 500 leaves to have any reaction. (American Journal of Toxic Medicine).
The Aztecs used the red dye of the leaves as an anti pyretic, (fever reducer), and Ohio State University found that even extremely large doses of this plant would not cause terrible problems. So, rest assured, you are safe to have these in the house with children around.
If your pet ingests the plant, whether it be white or red varieties they may drool a bit or have a slight touch of diahorea but they are very rarely severe symptoms
Looking after your Poinsettia
Here is a really useful link to help you get the best out of your plant for as long as possible!
Poinsettia Care Advice!
December 12th is National Poinsettia Day so go grab one and enjoy it's magical history and stunning colours in your home this Christmas!
You might also like to read Christmas is for giving!
Have a wonderful day!
Janie S xxx