Happy Poinsettia Day!
Welcome to PoinsettiaDay.com, celebrating the beautiful plant we've come to associate with Christmas. December 12th is Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist, physician and Minister to Mexico who in 1828 sent cuttings of the plant he'd discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia Pulcherrima
In July of 2002, the House of Representatives created Poinsettia Day, passing a Resolution to honor Paul Ecke Jr. who is considered the father of the poinsettia industry. It was Paul Ecke's discovery of a technique which causes seedlings to branch that allowed the Poinsettia industry to flourish. It may come as a surprise to hear that every year, Poinsettias contribute upwards of $250,000,000 to the U.S. economy-at the wholesale level! Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant in the U.S. and Canada. The Ecke's technique remained a secret until the 1990s when a university researcher discovered and published the formula. Both Paul Ecke Sr. and Paul Ecke Jr. worked tirelessly to promote the plant and its association with Christmas. Today their ranch, situated in Encinitas, California is run by Paul Ecke lll.
In Mexico the plant is called La Flor de la Nochebuena or, Flower of the Holy Night and is displayed in celebration of the December 12th, Dia de la Virgen. Use of the plant to celebrate Christmas in Mexico dates back to the 17th century. The flower connects to the legend of a young girl, distraught about not having anything with which to honor the Baby Jesus in a Christmas Procession. An angel tells her that any gift given with love is a wonderful gift. Later the weeds she gathers by the roadside to place around the manger miraculously transform into the beautiful red star flower we think of as Poinsettia. But Mexico's relationship to the plant goes back even further. The Aztecs called the plant Cuitlaxochitl meaning "star flower" and used it to produce a red dye. The sap was also used to control fevers. Montezuma, last of the Aztec king had Poinsettias delivered to him in by caravan to what is now Mexico City.