|Picture Scramble # 151
||19 December 2001
The most popular Christmas plant.
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The poinsettia, a contemporary symbol of Christmas, was introduced to the United
States and named after Joel Robert Poinsett in 1825. Poinsett
was serving as the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico when he saw the plant growing
on the hillsides of southern Mexico, where the plant is native.
The Aztec Indians prized poinsettias and considered them a symbol of purity
because of their brilliant red color. They made a reddish-purple dye
from the colored "flowers", which are actually modified leaves called bracts.
They also made a medicine against fevers from the latex sap of the
Picture courtesy of USDA/Scott Bauer.
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