Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Poinsettia/ Julestjerne/ Christmas Star

A popular Christmas flower in many countries

The Poinsettia / DK: Julestjerne  (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a decorative plant which originally comes from Mexico. The Danish name Julestjerne means Christmas Star and the pretty plant has a name referring to Christmas in many countries. It is a commercially important plant species  and it  is indigenous to Mexico. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres. The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres in length. The colored bracts which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves.The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color. The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia. The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations. It is also found in the interior in hot, seasonally dry forests. There are over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia.
Poinsettia tree in Mexico/ pinterest

The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication. In the language of the aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl, meaning "Wilting flower". 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. In Hungarian, it is called Santa Slaus Flower and it's widely used as a Christmas decoration. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

It is one of the most polular Christmas plants in Denmark and is sold in millions, I presume. Eveyone wants to have the pretty red Christmas Star in their home in the month of December.  

Silver star, goldsmith F.Hingelberg, Århus (1960s)

The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where a 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.

 While the sap and latex of many plants of the spurge genus are indeed toxic, the poinsettia's toxicity is relatively mild. Its latex can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Poinsettias are susceptible to several diseases, mostly fungal, but also bacterial and parasitic.Cultivation areas outside are its natural environment, it is commonly grown as an indoor plant where it prefers good morning sun, then shade in the hotter part of the day. Contrary to popular belief, flowering poinsettia can be kept outside, even during winter, as long as it is kept frost-free. It is widely grown and very popular in subtropical climates.
Star of Bethlehem

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