The Christmas Flower



Of all the symbols, sights and traditions of Christmas, perhaps the poinsettia is the one most taken for granted. It’s cheery red leaves (not petals, we’ll get to that in a minute) adds festive touches to homes, churches and businesses every holiday season, making it the most popular holiday plant.

False "Flowers"

Those bright red “flowers” on the poinsettia plant are actually leaves and not its flowers. The flowers are actually the yellow clustered buds in the center of the plant. The colored leafy parts are called bracts which are modified leaves that turn color in response to the plant’s forming flowers. Once the flowers are gone, the leaf bracts fall off. Eventually, even the green ones drop.

The poinsettia is a light sensitive plant. When you deprive the plant of light in its full leafing stage, the only chlorophyll used to turn the leaves green cannot be produced. As a result of this total darkness and lack of light, the only color that will be produced is red. This is called photoperiodism.

Red is the most popular color with pink and white trailing close behind. To date there are more than 100 varieties including salmon, apricot, yellow, cream and white. Several colors are blended together to produce speckled and marbled varieties. Homeowners and businesses are experimenting with these un-traditional colors to add a personal touch to different decors. The only color that is not produced, but rather is designer-created is blue.

Poinsettia Production

Every state grows poinsettias commercially. California is the top producer with over 6 million pots grown annually. North Carolina comes in second at 4.4 million, then Texas with 3.7 million with Florida and Ohio following them.

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