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The Story of the Poinsettia

The Story of the Poinsettia

Poinsettias are the best-selling potted flowering plant in the United States. Red poinsettias are a traditional part of Christmas celebrations, which is why almost all of them are sold at wintertime. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans bought $250 million worth of poinsettias last year.


The poinsettia is native to Central America and needs warmth to grow. Bright red poinsettias are the best known. But there are about one hundred different kinds, in colors including white, pink, yellow and purple.


The flowers of the poinsettia are very small. Around the flowers are colorful leaves called bracts. These bracts are what give the plants their beauty.


The poinsettia is named for Joel Roberts Poinsett from South Carolina. In 1825 President John Quincy Adams appointed him as the United States' first minister to Mexico. Poinsett had an interest in plants. He saw the colorful plants growing in the wild. Wild poinsettias can grow up to four meters tall. He liked them so much that he sent some cuttings back to the United States.

一品红因为南卡罗来纳州的乔尔·罗伯茨·波因塞特(Joel Roberts Poinsett)而得名。1825年,美国总统约翰·昆西·亚当斯(John Quincy Adams)任命他为美国首任驻墨西哥大使。波因塞特对植物很有兴趣。他看到这种色彩鲜艳的植物生长在野外。野生的一品红能够长到4米多高。他很喜欢这种植物,就送了一些插枝回美国。

The botanical name for the plant is Euphorbia pulcherrima. In Latin, that means "most beautiful euphorbia." There are hundreds of related plants, including rubber trees, trees that produce castor and tung oil, and the cassava, a root crop.

这种植物的学名是Euphorbia pulcherrima。在拉丁语中的意思就是美丽的大戟科植物。大戟科植物有数百种,包括橡胶树,产生蓖麻油和桐油的树,以及木薯这种块根作物。

People who are allergic to the latex produced by rubber trees can develop a mild skin rash from poinsettia plants. Babies and pets that chew on poinsettias can get sick. But experts say the plant is not as poisonous as some people think.


In the 1920s, Albert Ecke and his son Paul became interested in the poinsettia's ability to flower in winter. Paul Ecke thought it would be a good plant to display at Christmastime.

在20世纪20年代,阿尔伯特·艾克(Albert Ecke)和他的儿子保罗开始对一品红冬季开花的本事产生了兴趣。保罗·艾克认为它是一种圣诞期间展示的很好的植物。

They started a farm near Encinitas, California. At first, Paul Ecke, and later his son, grew large plants in fields. Then they sent them to growers by train. Growers would divide the large plants into cuttings, to raise smaller ones in greenhouses until the holidays.


In the 1960s came poinsettias that grew best in containers. The Eckes started to sell cuttings from these new plants. Today Ecke Ranch remains a major supplier in the United States and around the world. In August, Paul Ecke's grandson announced that the company was joining the Dutch-based Agribio Group.