Poinsettias

A poinsettia is more than just a beautiful red petaled Christmas plant!

Did you know that it is indigenous to Mexico and Central America!

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The Aztecs used the petals to produce a red dye and the white sap from the steam is an antipyretic medication… which means its a FEVER reducer! The Aztecs call the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl, meaning “flower that grows in residues.”

Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua or Pascua, meaning Easter flower. In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. In Turkey, it is called Atatürk’s flower because Atatürk, the founder of the Republic, liked this flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation in Turkey.

The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.

I find it so interesting that the plant comes from a specific place in Mexico, and had medicinal purposes, yet when I grew up learning about it I was told that the white sap was toxic and I could get sick from it.  Before doing a little exploring and questioning, I did not see it for anymore more than just a decorative plant!  Now reflecting on this fact…I know that all plants from this earth have a purpose that benefits the human race in one way or another. This is an important thing to be conscious of when realizing the amazing power we have to be self-sufficient.

All of this research came about because of my learn to paint poinsettia class! It was a nice party, and we created some beautiful paintings! Thank you ladies for coming!!

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