Named in honor of John Poinsett (the first ever United States ambassador to Mexico), the Poinsettia has long been a hallmark of holiday decorating. An avid plant lover, Poinsett crossed paths with the distinctive red plant while on diplomatic duty in 1882 in Mexico. The South Carolinian politician was so awestruck by the plant’s beauty that he took cuttings back to his greenhouse in Charleston.
The plant’s botanical name is, Euphorbia pulcherrima, which means “very beautiful.” Euphorbia pulcherrima was given a new name, Poinsettia, by famed horticulturist, William Prescott, in honor of Poinsett’s role in bringing the plant to America.
The Poinsettia’s history stretches far further back than the late 19th century. The Aztecs called the plant, “Cuetlaxochitl,” and used it commonly to treat fevers and other ailments. There have also been stories that Montezuma himself was quite fond of “Cuetlaxochitl.” In Mexico, the Poinsettia is called La Flor de la Noche Buena (the Flower of the Holy Night) after the Christmas story of Pepita. According to legend, Pepita, a poor girl, gathered a bouquet of roadside weeds and presented them as a gift at Christmas Eve services. It is said that the bouquet magically grew beautiful red blooms.
Today, Poinsettias are everywhere you turn during the holiday season. The plant’s red and green foliage offer the perfect complement to any holiday display. Ambius has created a number of enchanting Poinsettia Trees for multiple clients. The gorgeous red and white tree (pictured above) at the Rosedale on Robson in Vancouver was even featured on the hotel’s Christmas card this year. Additionally, the Baltimore Sun filmed our Washington DC crew installing a Poinsettia Tree comprised of over 1,000 plants at the Mall in Columbia.
Do you know any interesting facts about Poinsettias? Share them below in the comments 🙂