Euphorbia pulcherrima-The Poinsettia

The Poinsettia photos in this post were taken at The First Christian Church where I am a member.

The Poinsettia

Euphorbia pulcherrima

yoo-FOR-bee-uh  pul-KAIR-ih-muh

Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Poinsettia. It was named and documented by Carl Ludwig Willdenow and Johann Friedrich Klotzsch in Allgemeine Gartenzeitung in 1834.

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great Christmas and all is well. I wanted to write this post to give you some information about the origin of our favorite Christmas flower, the Poinsettia.

First of all, the Wikipedia says, “The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.” In its native habitat, the Poinsettia can grow between 2 and 14 feet tall.

The story begins in the 16th century with a little girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. The story goes on to say that she was inspired by an angel to pick weeds from the roadside to place in front of the church altar. Crimson flowers sprouted from the weeds and became Poinsettias.

In the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico used them in their Christmas decorations.

The star-shaped leaf pattern symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem and the red color represents the blood of Jesus.

In Mexico and Guatemala is called Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Flower. It is known as Flor de Pascua, in Spain, meaning Easter Flower. It is known as Crown of the Andes in Chile and Peru.

The common name was given to the plant in honor of the first United States Minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the United States in 1825.

The Poinsettia as we know it today mainly started with a German immigrant, Albert Ecke, who moved to Los Angeles from Germany in 1900. He opened a dairy and orchard in the Eagle Rock area and started selling Poinsettias on street stands. His son, Paul Ecke, developed a grafting technique which revolutionized the industry. Paul Ecke, Jr. took over the family business in 1963 and really got it rolling, promoting the Poinsettia as the Christmas flower.

Until the 1980’s, The Ecke Ranch had the monopoly of the Poinsettia industry. In the late 1980’s, a university researcher named John Dole discovered the method the Eckes used to create a much busier plant than their competition. Until then it was only known by the Eckes. He published his discovery, which allowed their competition to expand, especially those using low-cost labor in Latin America.

Paul Ecke III took over the Ecke Ranch in 1992 and started production in Guatemala. Somewhere in there, they stopped production in the U.S. He sold the company in 2012 then it was taken over by Dümmen Orange in 2015. In the article, Dümmen Orange CEO says all the companies they acquired have a rich and successful history.

The Eck Ranch was the worlds largest Poinsettia producer and still had 70% of the U.S. market, and 50% worldwide when Paul Ecke III decided to sell. HERE is a link to an interview with Paul Ecke III with him explaining the news.

It is always sad when a family-owned business is taken over by large corporations that have taken over many family businesses. I guess as their competition increases with rising costs to produce their product, something has to change. Once they start downsizing to avoid losses, it is only a matter of time. It seems to be easier for new businesses to start than for older business to hang on.

Well, I better close and get back to work on the pages to the right. I am just about ready to start on the “D’s”… I have a question for you… I have the plant pages on the right categorized by plant type but I am thinking about changing and listing them by family name at some point. That could complicate things, though, as even family names are and will continue to change. Even deciding what “category” is difficult because what are grown as annuals here are perennials or even houseplants in other zones. Maybe I should just do them in alphabetical order… What do you think?

Well, I’ll go for now. Tomorrow is going to be very cold with an expected high of 19 degrees! HOLY CRAP! So, until next time, stay happy, healthy, positive, and warm. Get dirty if you can. I am thinking about bringing a bucket of dirt in my room just so I can get my hands dirty.



6 comments on “Euphorbia pulcherrima-The Poinsettia

  1. Debbie in Surrey England says:

    With your audience I think the plant names might be best organised in line with Carl Linnaeus’s binomial system as it’s internationally recognised – so that would mean you would classify by families.
    I agree the constant changes due to genetic explorations going on at the moment would be a pain and a fly in the ointment, & might require regular review and revision: but if you classify by alphabet by common name it would be confusing because of so many local variations – it’s a tough one.


    • Thanks for your input, Debbie. You know, as I have been working on my list to the right, I have had to change several even though I did that not long ago. I did notice something weird, though… I can’t find out what families he put a lot of plants into in the first place. Mr. Linnaeus must have spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to understand what he had gotten himself in to. At the time, he thought there were only around 10,000 species. When I said alphabetical order, I meant by scientific name. I never intended to organize my list by common name because that would be ridiculous. I don’t even call my plants by their common names anywhere, except for the Coleus and Marigolds. I would never claim to pronounce the scientific names correctly, though. I think I will go down my list, as is is, and then reorganize by family when I am finished. Like I said, I am in the “C’s” and have, ummmm, at least 400 or so more to go. Thanks for the comment and input as always!


  2. Did not know any of this, thanks for sharing and enlightening! Happy Holidays, to you as well!!


  3. Jim R says:

    Thanks for the added info about P. A few days ago we looked up some info about the red colored ‘flowers’ and found they weren’t flowers at all. Now I know much more thanks to you.

    I don’t know the best solution to your listing on the right. Both ways have advantages. If I knew the category of a plant in question, I could easily find it and look whether you have it listed. I might not know the category, tho. If I knew the Latin name I could do a Find search for the words on the page. But, it is unlikely I would know the Latin name.

    This has probably been a challenge faced by many over the hundreds of years of doing plant IDs. Have you studied how others before have dealt with the challenge and solved it in their creative ways?


    • Oh yeah, Jim! I forgot to mention the red part were actually leaves. I also didn’t mention that a certain amount of light was used for a certain period of time is needed to get them to do that. I think maybe the links provided may explain that, though.

      When you get down to the nitty-gritty, classification is separated by Kingdom>Subkingdom>Superdivision>Division>Class>Subclass>Order>Family>SubFamily>Genus>Species>Subspecies (where applicable). I am not sure if all plants have a subfamily or just some. Maybe subfamilies were created as part of a compromise. Maybe I should do a post about that. GEEZ!

      I think most “normal” folks would classify “their lists” starting with families. I attempted to categorize by “type” according to my experience with them, which started in Mississippi which is much different than here in mid-Missouri.

      Thanks for the comment, Jim. Your input is always helpful.


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