During the holidays, it’s common to see beautiful red flowers practically everywhere you go, from the shopping mall to the grocery store. What’s the name of this red Christmas flower? It’s the poinsettia.
The poinsettia Christmas plant is native to Mexico and Central America, where it is known as Flor de Buena Noche or Christmas Eve flower. They have been used in Christmas celebrations there as far back as the 17th century, and there’s a popular legend about these special flowers.
According to the legend, there once was a poor girl who wanted to leave a gift at a nativity scene, but she couldn’t afford a present. An angel appeared and told her that any gift, no matter how humble, would be acceptable, as long as it was given with love. The angel then instructed the girl to gather some weeds. When she placed them near the manger, they suddenly bloomed into beautiful red poinsettia plants.
But despite their popularity in Central America, poinsettias were virtually unknown in North America until an American botanist visited Mexico in the 1820s and brought some of the plants home. By the early 1900s, poinsettias were becoming popular, thanks in part to appearances on TV shows such as Bob Hope’s Christmas specials.
Today this popular red Christmas flower is known throughout the world for its beautiful bright red leaves and its ability to add festive color to any holiday setting.