Poinsettia Day 2017
How much do you know about the history of poinsettias? Did you know today is Poinsettia Day? Today marks the anniversary of Joel Roberts Poinsett’s death in 1851. He was the botanist who discovered the plant that is now known as the poinsettia. He discovered it in Southern Mexico in 1828 and took cuttings to send back to his home in South Carolina.
Later, as more botanists studied the plant, a man named Paul Ecke Jr discovered a new technique that causes seedlings to branch. Poinsettias them became increasingly more popular and is now the most popular holiday plant in the US and Canada. The technique was kept secret until the 1990s when another researcher discovered and published the formula. Today the Ecke family still owns a ranch in California.
Now for the more fun history of poinsettias. In Mexico, poinsettias have been used to celebrate Christmas ever since the 17th century. Legend has it that a young girl was distraught that she didn’t have anything to give to Baby Jesus during a Christmas procession. An angel then told her that given in love, any gift is wonderful. She then gathered weeds from along the roadside and placed them around the manger where they miraculously turned into the red star flowers we know today as poinsettias.
The Aztecs also used poinsettias to make red dye and used their sap to control fevers.