It’s Not a Flower, it’s a Bract

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are one of the most popular winter and Christmastime plants. They can be found this time of year in retail outlets and florists and now even in grocery stores. The gorgeous display of bright red against dark green foliage is the perfect combination to match our traditional Christmas palette of red and green.

These colors have been used for decorative purposes during winter months dating back to Roman times with the celebration honoring the god Saturn each year between Dec. 17 and 23. The tradition was carried on by Christians as early as the 1300s.

Native to Mexico and Central America, the poinsettia grows naturally in the landscape in moist areas that get six to eight hours of indirect sunlight. The Aztecs of Mexico cultivated and used poinsettias for decorative purposes in religious ceremonies, medicinal purposes and as a reddish-purple dye.

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