For centuries, Christmas has been celebrated with various flora and fauna, from trees to holly, but the poinsettia is a fairly recent addition. We have our own U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, to thank for its introduction to the U.S. in 1828 (in a tribute to aimless walkers everywhere, he found it growing next to a road while out strolling), but botanists deserve our gratitude for breeding this feisty Southern flower into a demure house plant.

A beautiful poinsettia tree in Southern Living.

The U.S. National Botanic Gardens put on a display this season of various breeds of poinsettias, like these lanky, long-leafed beauties. The Aztecs prized poinsettias (called Cuetlaxochitl) and used them for red dye. 

Some of the specimens were 8 feet or taller - not exactly decorative material! I love the variegated patterns (below), the rarer, pink hues, and the tree-like limbs.

Do you bring poinsettias into your home at Christmas?
 /Images/ poinsettia tree/ all others, my own/


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