Julie Lence: The Poinsettia


We’re so delighted to have Julie Lence come to visit our neck of the woods. She always has something interesting to share. She also has a giveaway so please comment. Please make her welcome.

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me-mediumThe Poinsettia is a native Mexican plant. Its origins trace back to present day Taxco. The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd, is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and is defined as a female flower, without petals and usually without sepals, surrounded by individual male flowers enclosed in a cup-shaped structure called a cyathium. The Euphorbia genus contains 700-1000 species. The Aztecs in central Mexico cultivated the plant and used the colorful leaves, known as bracts, to make a reddish-purple dye for clothes and makeup. The Poinsettia’s milky sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers.

 

joel-roberts-poinsettJoel Roberts Poinsett is credited as the first American to bring the plant to the United States. A botanist from Greenville, South Carolina, Poinsett was also the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. Best remembered as the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, Poinsett traveled to the Taxco area, discovered the colorful plants growing on adjacent hillsides and had some of them shipped to his home, where he grew them in his greenhouse. From there, he gifted some of the plants to his friends and also sent some to botanical gardens and to fellow botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia. Bartram sent the plant to his friend Robert Buist. Buist was a plants-man from Pennsylvania and thought to be the first person to sell the Poinsettia under its original name. Legend has it the Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd, became known as the Poinsettia in the 1830’s, after Joel Robert Poinsett.

 

poinsettiaHow did the Poinsettia become known as the Christmas plant? The Aztecs prized the poinsettia and believed it to be a symbol of purity. In the 17th century, Franciscan monks in Mexico incorporated the flower into their Fiesta of Santa Pesbre; a nativity procession. This is the first time the Poinsettia was associated with Christmas, leading Mexico’s Christians to adopt the plant as their Christmas Eve flower. The star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The red leaves represent Christ’s blood and the white leaves symbolize his purity.

 

andrea-sadek-white-poinsettia-figurineOnce the monks included the Poinsettia in their nativity procession, a few legends sprang up as to why and how the plant became associated with Christmas. One is the tale of poor, young Pepita who was upset because she did not have a gift to give to the baby Jesus at Christmas Eve mass. As she made her way to the church, her cousin tried to cheer her up. Pedro told Pepita that even the smallest gift presented to Jesus in love would make the Christ child happy. Pepita picked some weeds and placed them beside the manger. Before everyone’s eyes, the weeds magically transformed into beautiful red flowers. Another tale says it was an angel who told Pepita to pick the weeds and bring them to the church. Regardless, the parishioners swore they’d witnessed a miracle, and from that evening on, the flowers became known as Flores de Noche Buena; Flowers of the Holy Night.

 

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Have you gotten a poinsettia this Christmas or have plans to do so? As a Thank You for chatting with me today, I’m gifting 2 lucky winners Kindle copies of each of my 3 short Christmas stories. Merry Christmas Everyone! I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season. Julie

 

**To preview my Christmas stories, please visit Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/author/julielence?tag=pettpist-20

Guest Blogger

18 Comments

  1. Hi Julie…….Welcome back to P&P. We’re always happy to see you. Wow, I didn’t know the history of the poinsettia! That’s very interesting. I just love poinsettias and nothing puts me in the Christmas like they do. The red ones are my favorite. They’re just so pretty. I saw some pink ones this year and although they were beautiful, they don’t have the spectacular beauty of the red ones.

    Wishing you much success with your Christmas stories. They look great. Merry Christmas!

  2. Hi Linda: Thank you for having me as your guest today. It’s always a pleasure to join you and the fillies! I love Poinsettias, too, but I don’t have any. We have a dog, and it’s my understanding if eaten, they are harmful to dogs. Not that she would, but better safe than sorry.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. I wish you a blessed and joyful celebration!
    Julie

  3. I haven’t gotten any poinsettias. I have a cat that likes to chew on plants, so I don’t bring them in my house.

  4. I usually do not get a poinsettia.

  5. Hello Janine and Charlene: Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Happy Holidays to both of you! Julie

  6. No poinsettias for me this year… love the different colors you can find though!

  7. Hi Colleen: Thank you for stopping by. I like the colors of the Poinsettias, too. I don’t have a favorite. They’re all pretty. Hugs, Julie

  8. Hello Julie,
    Thank you for information on poinsettias. I enjoyed reading about them. Well I did buy some this year but they are not real. I wanted to add color to the room.
    🙂

    1. Hi Mary: Glad you liked the blog. Have a Happy Holiday season.

  9. We have gotten them before, but not this year. I love the variegated pink and white or maroon and white varieties. I would like to keep them year round, but the weather isn’t right.

    1. I agree. The multicolored poinsettias are pretty. I once worked with a gal who kept one growing well into the spring on her desk at work.

  10. I love poinsettias. This year my mom, who has been very ill, was gifted with a blue poinsettia. It is absolutely beautiful
    1

    1. Hi Cindy: I have not seen a blue one, but that sounds very pretty.

  11. I love poinsettias, but I will not get one this year due to having a cat. I am not sure he would bother it but don’t want to take any chances. The red ones are my favorite.

    1. I’m the same, though I have a dog. I don’t think she’d be interested int he plant. Then again, one never knows what capture their interest.

  12. Hi Julie! What a great post! I always wondered how poinsettias came to be a Christmas flower and where they were from. Have a wonderful Christmas and thanks for joining us here at Wildflower Junction!

    1. Hi Kathryn: It’s a pleasure to be here. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  13. Welcome! I have not gotten a poinsettia . Thank you for sharing your interesting post and Merry Christmas.

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