Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

I often wish it were possible to hybridize them into trees so I could have a poinsettia Christmas tree instead of the same old fir, spruce, or pine we usually put up. Poinsettias take me into the Christmas spirit more than any other thing I can think of. Back in the day, it was my toddlers with their wide-eyed amazement and wonder leading up to Christmas morning (they're teens now, who seem almost lethargic with it all, but that's fodder for another post).

I'm sure most of you know that the bright red, white, or pinkish leaves on poinsettias are actually specialized bracts, colored so beautifully for attracting pollinators (humans do that for us out of season, so there's really no need for the leaves to be so dramatic). The flowers are located down in among the bracts, almost hidden, and resemble little olives; the tighter the "olive," or bud, the longer you'll have colorful bracts.

The tightness of these buds says the colorful bracts will last a good while, if all other needs are met. A primary concern is overwatering; do that and you'll ensure a quick death from root rot.

I wish for a red poinsettia Christmas tree.

Or perhaps a 'Marble' poinsettia Christmas tree.

You may have heard that poinsettias are poisonous, this isn't all that factual. You'd have to eat something like a thousand bracts or so before you'd even get a tummy ache. When cut, stems seep a milky white sap that might irritate sensitive skin. The kitty in the above photo is around them a lot and seems not to mind, my guess is pets are not bothered by them either.

Perhaps you've noticed that I've not posted much about gardening lately. There's a couple of reasons; one is that I write a weekly column for a local paper and like to mix it up here, the other you can find in the sentence under "The Write Gardener" in my header - "life in and out of the garden."

It's the Christmas season, I know you don't need a reminder to (always) treat others with kindness, be happy with who you are, love your family, and your God, with all your heart, and if you ever hear of someone hybridizing a poinsettia tree, please let me know.


flydragon said...

Hey Santa,
If someone lets you know about a poinsettia tree, pass it on. I wouldn't mind having one of those myself.

Weeping Sore said...

How nifty to hear Leo Kottke on this post. I haven't listened to any of his stuff newer than "Louise" w/Bonnie Raitt.
I have neighbors growing poinsettias outdoors here in So. Cal. I posted about it here:

tina said...

Donna at Mother Nature's Garden posted the Whitehouse Christmas tree and guess what it is? A red poinsettia tree! Do check it out as it is very pretty. But belongs to the Whitehouse of course.

walk2write said...

Thanks for the tip about the bud tightness. I always just check the pot and around it to see if any of the leaves (bracts?) have fallen off and make sure nothing is yellowing. You know, I'm wondering something. How did you survive on a sub without a garden or even plants to tend? I'll bet while the other guys were looking at girlie mags, you were sneaking peeks at gardening books and such. Don't be offended now, but you make a dandy Santa (never naughty, always nice)!

Joe Lamp'l said...

Nice job TC of an interesting and refreshing post on the most popular plant of the season. Great photos too.

Dave said...

Sounds like an interesting challenge! I've seen poinsettia trees that have multiple plants arranged to be like a tree but never one as large as you would need to replace a Christmas tree.

thomas said...

we're trying to keep our puppy from eating ours...

lola said...

Thanks for the tip about the buds. I didn't know that. I have a white one that has started to "bloom". I brought it in when the temps fell but it started to loose it's leaves, so back out it went. Too hot in the house.
Neighbors near have some that are roof high. Not too many leaves so they look funny.

Roses and Lilacs said...

So many colors this year. I expect most are died. Still, I think I like the bright red best.

TC said...

FD: I'd have mine in all the shades of red or white they have. It'd be so pretty!

Weeping Sore: I've been a fan of his for over 20 years. We seen him in Pittsburgh years ago. After the show he came out and was jawin with a few of us. He looked at me and said, "Do I know you? You look awful familiar." I said, "Yeah, I added some backup guitar work on one of your albums and you owe me a couple thousand dollars!" He laughed.

Ms. Tina: I took a good look at that picture and although it's got the perfect shape, I think I could've done a better job at hiding the base of the "trunk," I also think they should've added some lights. Nonetheless, it was still very pretty.

W2W: I was only 17 when I joined the Navy, at that age, I didn't have the interest in gardening that I have now. And, "don't be offended now," but sometimes I'm a naughty Santa. ;~)

Joe: Thanks. How many do you have scattered around?

Dave: The nursery where I took those photos had a large plant stand with several poinsettias hanging. It was very pretty, but not practical for a close quarter living room "poinsettia tree" application.

Thomas: Good luck with that!

Ms. Lola: I like white ones too, and I'd love to see a "roof high" poinsettia!

Ms. Marnie: I didn't ask, but I don't think they die their poinsettias at the greenhouse where I took my pictures. I know what you mean though.

MrBrownThumb said...

I may be the only one in the world but I really dislike Poinsettias, with a passion.

TC said...

Help me understand why Mr. Brown Thumb.