Deb's Big Backyard

  Deb's Big Backyard

The Points on Poinsettias

photo and video  by Kevin J. McCarey

 

by Deb Quantock McCarey

 

I have never been a fan of the pretty Poinsettia.

 

Part of it is probably related to the urban legend that they are deadly poisonous to children and pets if ingested, even only a lick.

 

Well, that isn't true, and the point I want to make now is that I do think they merit a nod over the holidays, and beyond, I suppose.

 

And, there are these five points, and pointers, about Poinsettias, courtesy of the plant peeps at the Oak Park Conservatory, and the University of Illinois Extension’s The Poinsettia Pages...

 

1.Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 of the “awful tasting” leaves to have any harmful effect.  However, ingesting them can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  In addition, a Poinsettia oozes a milky (latex) sap, so some people with latex allergies have had a skin reaction, probably related to that, after touching the leaves.  The sap may also cause mild irritation or nausea in pets.

 

2.What is in a name?  Its botanical name is Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia), and the plant’s namesake is botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who circa 1828 introduced it to the United States.

 

3.Don’t judge the flower by its look.   Those showy, colored leaves (bracts) are not its bloom. The yellow “false flower,” cyathia, sits at the center of the colorful bracts.

 

4.Poinsettias are a holiday tradition around.  In Mexico and Guatemala, the Poinsettia is known as "La Flor de la Nochebuena" (Flower of the Holy Night, or Christmas Eve); In Chile and Peru, the Poinsettia is called the "Crown of the Andes"; and In Spain the Poinsettia has a different holiday attribution.  It is known there as "Flor de Pascua," meaning "Easter flower.”

 

5.December 12 is Poinsettia Day, in honor of its namesake, Joel Roberts Poinsett who died in 1851.

 

But don't expect me to be a lemming, oh no.

 

I will go with the flow for now, though, 'cuz they can be awfully pretty, especially in pink -- and when about 500 of them flock into the form of a holiday tree for all to see.  

 

 

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