Pity the poinsettia. After becoming the butt of so many jokes that the jokes themselves are the cliché, this hard-working holiday plant deserves better. Look at these pale beauties and then tell me you don’t want one in your house this Christmas:
Indigenous to Mexico, the poinsettia originally had an Aztec name: “Cuetlaxochitl.” Thank you, Joel Roberts Poinsett, for bring the plant to the United States in the early 1800s–and for having a surname that simplified matters for us non-native Náhuatl speakers.
Above: A potted poinsettia from The Home Depot in its nursery pot (painted gold). Photograph by John Merkl.
A big reason for the poinsettia’s 20th century surge was a breakthrough in breeding: small, compact, red bushes captured the Christmas market. But let us not forget that the poinsettia comes in other calmer colors. We love those shades: pink, salmon, cream, blush, white.
For more, see DIY Poinsettia: A Common Christmas Plant Goes Luxe. For growing tips, see Poinsettias: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.