Poinsettias originate from the most southern regions of Mexico and Central America. Ancient Aztecs first discovered the plant species blooming in tropical highlands one winter, and named it Cuetlaxochitl, which means “flower that grows in residues or soil,” in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. Originally, the red leaves of Poinsettias were used to dye clothing and produce a form of cosmetics, while the milky-white sap was used to help reduce fever temperatures.
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In 1828, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US Ambassador to Mexico, discovered the crimson-red plants while visiting the Taxco region. Enraptured by its beauty, Poinsett sent clippings of the plant back to his home in Charleston, SC. He then began propagating them in his greenhouses and sending samples to his friends. In 1833, German botanist, Wilenow gave the plant its botanical name of Euphorbia pulcherrima. It was in 1937 when the plant had been renamed to Poinsettia by William Hickling Prescott, wishing to honor Dr. Poinsett. Today, many professional growers cultivate Poinsettias, making them widely available to retailers and their consumers almost everywhere. Consider purchasing these beautiful plants this season for their gorgeous appeal as well as to support the growers who make them accessible.