The Story of the Poinsettia

Native to Central America, the poinsettia has long and interesting history. The plant flourished in Southern Mexico, and was used by the Aztecs for decorative and practical purposes. They extracted a purplish dye for use in textiles, made cosmetics from the plant’s bracts, and used its milky white sap to treat fevers.

The fact that we know the poinsettia today in the United States is due to the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett. He served as the first Ambassador to from James 1825 to 1829 Poinsett previously attended medical school, but his real love in the scientific field was botany.

Poinsett maintained several greenhouses on his farms in South Carolina. After visiting Southern Mexico in 1828, he became enchanted by the brilliant red blooms on the plants he saw there. He sent some back to South Carolina, where he began growing and sending them to friends and botanical gardens. Around 1836, the plant became popularly known as the poinsettia.

There is also a charming story associated with the plant. Legend has it that Pepita, a poor Mexican girl, had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services in her village. As she slowly walked to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness. Pedro said to her, “I am sure that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes,”

Unsure what to do, Pepita knelt by the side of the road, picked a handful of common weeds, and made them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel.

As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s words: “Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes.

From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season. Thus, the legend of the poinsettia was born.

If poinsettias are part of your holiday decorations, you will find top quality poinsettias, wreaths or many other holiday flowers at any Forest Lawn Flower Shop. For more information, please call 1-855-254-3131 or visit www.forestlawnflowershop.com