Q. Where is poinsettia native to?
Poinsettia ( Euphorbia pulcherrima), also called Christmas star, lobster plant, or Mexican flame leaf, grows wild in Mexico. Growers in Scandinavia and California developed the strains that have been scaled down from the original 6-foot-tall shrub. All poinsettias are winter-flowering shrubs notable for their colored bracts. The greenish-yellow flowers are insignificant, but each cluster of tiny flowers is surrounded by 10-20 attractively colored bracts, which look like narrowly pointed broad leaves and can be 8-10 inches long. There are many varieties, of which some of the most popular have been named by the California grower Paul Ecke for members of his family. Among them: 'Barbara Ecke Supreme,' and 'Mrs. Paul Ecke'.
Commercial growers subject their plants to a strict regimen that is almost impossible to follow in the average home. All poinsettias are short-day plants--i.e., flower-bud and bract formation can be initiated only by an eight-week period of no more than 10 hours of light and no less than 14 hours of total, uninterrupted darkness per day. The tree is treated with a dwarfing chemical that effectively reduces stem length. The resultant short-stemmed plants crowned by large and handsome bracts are normally sold when they are in full bloom in early winter, but they may also be timed for Easter.
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- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service