The history of the Christmas poinsettia is fascinating. It’s a bit of a soap opera, but an interesting bit of gardening history
The History of the Christmas Poinsettia
Sometimes the history of plants reads like a soap opera. I researched and wrote two pieces this morning about poinsettia, and the more I dug into the topic, the more fascinated I became with this beautiful plant. I love poinsettia and while I choose silk over the real thing, my window boxes along the front porch are adorned with stems of silk Christmas poinsettia and I have two big fake ones outside my front door. I have tablecloths with red poinsettia and my favorite Christmas candle is a big sparkly glass candle with a painting of a poinsettia on it. As I look at all these symbols of Christmas, I can’t help but smile. The Europeans may have conquered the Aztecs, but their favorite plant conquered OUR holiday!
King Montezuma, the last of the Aztecs, so loved the poinsettia that he sent caravans into the lower elevations to return with the plants to adorn his palace; it wouldn’t grow on the higher elevations where he lived. For nearly 100 years, one family in California held the secret to growing the perfect poinsettias until lab technicians unlocked their secret – in 1990! Conquerers, angels whispering secrets to poor Mexican girls, clever marketing and more make up the rich history of the poinsettia.
Read more in my article, How the Poinsettia Became Associated with Christmas.