Monday, November 19, 2007

Red and Gold

This is what I bought yesterday, the plant that my friend used to buy her grandmother every year, a Poinsettia.
The Red bracts and golden yellow flowers in the centre feel Christmassy.
It has a golden pot holding it, but it was leaking water hence the white mat under it to protect the wooden surface of the stereo unit.
It was known to the Aztecs and the Sap used for treating fever, and the Red Bracts for making Dyes.The Great Aztec King Montezuma liked the plants brought to his capital on Caravans because they would not grow at altitude.
The plant is Mexican, and has a traditional legend. A poor Mexican girl was going to Church on Xmas Eve with her brother,and had no money for a gift. She saw some weeds growing along the roadside and picked them into a bouquet. She entered the church sadly but thinking a gift given with love would be acceptable to god. When she laid them at the Christs feet in the Church they burst into red flower. The people there declared it was a miracle. The mexican name for Poinsettias is Flores de Noche Buena, flowers of the Holy night.
in the 17th century the Fransiscan monks had used Poinsettias for Christmas Pageants because of the bright colours flowering around the holiday period.
A US ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett, first brought it back to America in 1825 following a stay in Mexico. He was walking around the Mexican countryside and came across a large shrub with the red bracts. He took cuttings back to his greenhouse in South Carolina and began the American and worlds love of these plants. As the plant became more popular it needed a common name.It changed from Euphorbia pulcherrima, to Poinsettia.
Today the USA grows ninety percent of the worlds Poinsettias. My little plant in the pot could have come from the Paul Ecke Ranch in California.
61,000,000 plants were sold in 2004, and its noted to be the most popular American house plant.
I have just looked at photos of the Wild Poinsettias. The bracts are strikingly red, and the yellow flowers star like. This is another plant story that weaves its way through human history, and becoming entwined with storys and beliefs, myths and traditions.
Do you have one in your home around the holidays, or did your family have them?


Priscilla George said...

Poinsettias are just so lovable. I love the story behind it I have never heard it before. We got 475 poinsettias in today at the botanical gardens. Needless to say we only got a little over 10 planted before I left at 1.

David (Snappy) said...

Hi Vanillalotus I never knew the story before yesterday after my google research.Thats a lot of Poinsettias!They are lovely plants though.I think the storys behind the plants embellish them and make them more charming :)