Poinsettias Flower Meanings

√ Updated: September 14, 2010

Poinsettia Symbolism

Poinsettia MeaningThe ancient Aztecs considered the poinsettia to be a symbol of purity. For them, the poinsettia was the "skin flower". The plant was used to produce red dye and also medicinally to reduce fevers. Today, poinsettias are the most easily recognized flower symbolic of Christmas. Poinsettias are also known as the "Christmas flower" and "Mexican flame leaf." Poinsettias originally came from Mexico and Central America.

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Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees
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Forget-Me-Not: A Floral Treasury Sentiments and Plant Lore from the Language of Flowers

The Christmas Legend

According to a Mexican legend, one day near Christmas a child who was too poor to buy a present for the Christ child picked a bouquet of weeds from the side of the road. When the child reached the church, the plant blossomed in beautiful red and green flowers. Beginning in the 17th century, monks in Mexico included the plant in their Christmas celebrations. Find beautiful Christmas Flowers and Gifts.

Poinsettia PlantThe American Poinsettia Phenomena

Today in the United States, December 12th is Poinsettia Day. The American monopoly of the poinsettia market began in the early 1900s. Albert Ecke moved from Germany and began selling the plant from street stands. At the time, poinsettias were more like a weedy bush, lacking in fullness and definition. His son developed a grafting technique for a fuller, more attractive plant. (Photo courtesy of Kleomarlo, Wikimedia Commons)

In the next generation, Albert's grandson began to promote the association between poinsettias and the Christmas holidays. He sent free plants to television stations to display from Thanksgiving to Christmas and appeared on programs like The Tonight Show and The Bob Hope Show to promote the poinsettia. In the 1990s, other researchers developed their own techniques for producing beautiful poinsettias. However, the Ecke family still controls 70% of all poinsettia propagation and sales.

Poinsettia MeaningTypes of Poinsettias

The bright petals of poinsettias are actually leaves or bracts, and the flowers themselves are very small and yellow. The Mexican poinsettia is bright red, but poinsettias also come in cream, yellow, pink and peach. (Photo by Tauʻolunga, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Natural History of Poinsettias

Poinsettia MeaningPoinsettias are named after Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, a US ambassador to Mexico who introduced the plant to the United States. Recent research has shown that poinsettias are not poisonous, as they were long believed to be. Poinsettias can grow to a height of 16' and thrive in climates where the temperature remains between 50 and 70F. (Photo taken by Helen Filatova at Free Photos)

Poinsettia Photos for Projects and Design

Need photos of poinsettia? Please visit Dreamstime Stock Photography. Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at unbelievable prices. The Dreamstime database is renewed with thousands of fresh images and titles on a daily basis. See more photos here.

Flower Bouquet Order Bouquets and Flowers
The extensive FloristOne catalog features flowers for every occasion and an extensive network of florists that allows for same day delivery to nearly all of the United States and Canada. Send a classic gift with special meaning for a birthday, baby's birth, holiday, sympathy, graduation or other special occasion. Nothing else communicates your sentiments quite as well as flowers. See our selection of bouquets and flowers here or go directly to the FloristOne website to see all flowers available.

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