Just like Christmas trees the Poinsettia flower has become a symbol of the holiday but nobody is sure if it was by plan or accident. One thing for sure, the Poinsettia flower is the number one selling potted plant in the United States with more than $250 million in sales during the six weeks before Christmas. The plant comes from Mexico and is said to have been used by Franciscan priests in their Nativity processions because of the plants change of colors.


Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, America’s first ambassador to Mexico was responsible for introducing the planet to the United States around 1827, and was named in his honor in 1836. The planet was originally known as the ‘Mexican fire plant’ because of the red color but it also comes in white and pink. According to historian Bill Petro, Dr. Poinsett not only has the flower named after him but he also founded the predecessor to the Smithsonian Institute which was the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and Useful Arts.


Many poinsettias are raised in California, where in the early 1900’s they where sold as potted plants, with the city of Ventura, California known as the Poinsettia City.


Source: Historian Bill Petro