The poinsettia, also known as Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a popular plant during the holiday season. It is native to Mexico and Central America and was introduced to the United States in the 19th century.
This vibrant plant has become synonymous with Christmas decorations due to its bright red and green foliage. However, it comes in various colors such as pink, white, and even yellow. In addition to its beauty, the poinsettia has an interesting history and symbolism behind it.
According to legend, a young girl in Mexico was too poor to offer a gift to baby Jesus at Christmas Eve mass. Instead, she gathered weeds from the side of the road and placed them at the altar. Miraculously, the weeds transformed into poinsettias and became known as "Flores de Noche Buena" or Flowers of the Holy Night. This is why in Mexico, poinsettias are called "Noche Buenas."
In addition to its religious symbolism, the poinsettia also has a more practical use. It was used by the Aztecs for medicinal purposes, such as treating fevers and skin irritations. The sap of the plant was also used to make a red dye for fabrics and cosmetics.
Today, the poinsettia is not only used as a decorative plant but also in holiday traditions and celebrations.