Poinsettias, also known as the Christmas flower, originated from Mexico and are used as a traditional Christmas decoration. The name comes from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who originally brought the first plants to the U.S. Poinsettias are believed to be a symbol of purity, specifically the red poinsettia is thought to symbolize good cheer and success and the white a symbol of unity. Poinsettias are the birth flower for December.
The poinsettia's "flowers" are actually leaf-like bracts. These bracts (modified of specialized leaf) surround the poinsettia's true tiny, yellow flowers. Although the most traditional color is red, other varieties are available in burgundy, white, peach or pink. Poinsettia height can vary from 15 cm to 90 cm tall.
Poinsettias should be watered thoroughly. These plants need bright light but direct sunlight can cause color to fade. An average room temperature of 60 - 75°F is best for maintaining these plants indoors.
It is a Mexican Christmas tradition for children to present gifts to baby Jesus. A young girl picked weeds from the road since she had no money and nothing else to give. As she approached the church the weeds transformed into Flored de Noche Buena, the Mexican Winter Rose. In Mexico, the poinsettia now symbolizes the holy Star of Bethlehem.