Poinsettia – A Christmas Miracle?

The poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is native to Mexico’s Central and Southern regions, where it was domesticated in pre-Hispanic times, often used to dye textiles and was treasured as a tribute to gods, such as Tonantzin (Our Lady, Our Mother).  Last year around this time, I got a large pot with three poinsettias, as shown above, as a rebate for spending above a certain limit at the supermarket (maybe to appease growing outrage for shortages and inflation.)  Usually by the end of the cold season, the plants naturally drop most of their foliage, leaving a bunch of terete stems naked, a habit that probably inspired its Nahuatl name, cuetlaxochitl, which means “wilted flower.” 

For me, the plants then rarely make it past February, but these ones survived the drop pretty well, and by spring time, they had developed a lot of new green leaves.  Although the weather was nice enough to provide a warm setting for the plants outside, they were doing so well indoors, that I just let them be; by September, this is how healthy the poinsettias looked, in the same spot since December:

As their anniversary comes around, one of the three plants is almost dead, but the other two are still hanging in there:

During Spanish colonial times in Mexico, poinsettias became a popular decoration for the Christmas season, and started to appear in Franciscan Nativity processions, as the plant’s specialized top leaves, called bracts, naturally turned bright red in the month of December, when flowers were probably scarce.  Some legends claim that when these plants were brought inside a church for the first time on Christmas Eve, they “miraculously bloomed” overnight.  Since then, the Spanish name for them has been “La Flor de Nochebuena,” which translated directly into English means “The Holy Night (Christmas Eve) Flower.”  To me, the plants being alive after a whole year indoors is already a small miracle onto itself, but I wonder if my poinsettias will perform a similar act, and turn red just in time for a very colourful Christmas …


I am joining Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge for December 15, 2022: Poinsettia.

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