The history of Poinsettias

With Christmas just around the corner, many eager shoppers have already started browsing and even buying. Within the next few weeks, home décor will also change and you may notice a number of stores displaying poinsettias. These traditionally festive plants have become such a common part of the décor that it’s easy to forget its interesting history.

The plant itself is native to dry and hot areas of Central America and Mexico. In these parts, the plant can grow up to 15 feet tall which is incredible when considering how modest the potted varieties look in comparison. The plant was cultivated for many years by the Aztecs and the natives used the leaves (or bracts) to make their own red dye from the 14th to the 16th century. The plant did not naturally grow in areas of higher altitude which is why the last king of the Aztec king had it brought to what is now known as Mexico City. Later the plant became an important part of the Santa Pesebre nativity celebrations during the 17th century. This is really how the plant became associated with Christmas.

In 1825, Joel Robers Poinsett introduced this plant to America. Albert Ecke later played a significant role in cultivating this plant in America and plants were transported from Mexico to California by rail. The Fischer family, from Germany, also made their mark as far as this plant is concerned. They made various advances to ensure stronger stems, earlier blooming, multiple branching, and colour variation, to name a few.

Today this plant is synonymous with Christmas and, although they are also available in other colours, the red is the most popular of all. If you are looking to decorate your own home, poinsettias can certainly brighten up various parts of your home. You can place one or more pots around the base of your Christmas tree, you can place one on your living room coffee table, or you could even display one in your kitchen. If you want to send somebody a meaningful and appropriate for any recipient, poinsettias are your best bet!