Christmas Poinsettia Or Ephorbia Pulcherrima

By on December 19, 2016
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By Heather Freund. One of the most recognized plants for the holidays is the Christmas Poinsettia
or Ephorbia pulcherrima. It is from the Family: Euphorbiaceae, Species: E. pulcherrima,
and the Genus: Euphorbia
It is most commonly known as poinsettia or noche buena, is a species of flowering plant
indigenous to Mexico and Central America. The name “poinsettia” is after Joel Roberts
Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant into the US
in 1825. It is also called the Atatürk flower in Turkey.
Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6 to
4 m (2 to 16 ft). The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7 to 16 cm (3
to 6 inches) in length. The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red but can
be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled—are actually leaves; because the
flowers are unassuming and do not attract pollinators, brightly coloured leaves develop,
(aka bracts).
The colors come from photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness for 12 hours
at a time for at least 5 days in a row to change color. At the same time, the plants need a
lot of light during the day for the brightest color. Because of their groupings and colors,
laymen often think the bracts are the flower petals of the plant. In fact, the flowers are
grouped within the small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and
they are called cyathia.

Heather Freund from the Maple Ridge Garden Society

First published Dec 6, 2012

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