How did the Poinsettia Get It’s Name ?

December 21, 2009

How did the Poinsettia Get It’s Name ?

Among the most popular holiday plants are poinsettia, amaryllis, cyclamen and Christmas cactus. Horticulturalist Doug Welsh says, “Through scripture and tradition, plants have been used in symbolic teachings to remind humans of their intimate relationship with the natural world.”

We  enjoy these vibrant blooming plants as part of our holiday each Christmas, but did you know that the poinsettia is also known as Christmas Star or Mexican Flame Leaf,

Today in Mexico it’s called nochebuena. (night good).

The plant was used in the pre-Hispanic era as a medicine and the red leaves used to dye cotton fibers.

The first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett (1825-1829) made the plant popular. Poinsett introduced them to the United States around 1825.


Now you know why the name of the plant in the English speaking world is Poinsettia.

Some people believe that the plant is toxic, but that’s now regarded as an urban myth.

Poinsettias do best in medium to bright light. They prefer to be kept in cool temperatures, 65-70 degrees during the day and 55-60 at night.

So, now you know why you see so many growing naturally here at Lake Chapala Ajijic.

The plant is a perennial, so we get to enjoy them almost all year long here.

  • Randy Ponder

    I look forward to your Chapala Club updates every week. We have friends who live in Ajijic and my wife and I have been vacationing down there for the past 10 or 12 years. We consider our Mexican friends family. It is truly a beautiful place and the people are special. We will be vacationing again this year after Christmas and through New Years. I would like to meet you in person if possible. Feliz Navidad. Randy Ponder, Ft. Worth, Texas

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