Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Carolinian Brought Us the Poinsettia

by Elva Cobb Martin

Did you know the man who brought the poinsettia to America was a Secretary of War under President Van Buren, an ambassador to Mexico, and a South Carolina doctor?

He was also an enthusiastic gardener.

During his service as ambassador to Mexico, he often marveled at the beautiful wild plant that mantled the Mexican hillsides and gardens with flame and scarlet hues.

When he returned home to South Carolina, he brought the plant with him. The transplantation was successful,and soon neighbors were asking him for shoots.  Since the brilliant vermilion coloring reached the height of its glory at Christmas, it was soon combined with smilax and other greens to enrich the holiday festivities.

The custom spread and today it is as popular a symbol of Christmas as holly and mistletoe.

A little known fact about the poinsettia is that the vermilion rosettes of the top are leaves not flower petals. The actual "flower" is the small cup of green segments tipped with yellow and red surrounded by the scarlet whorl of leaves.
The actual "flower" of the poinsettia.

Forgotten now is the Carolina garden where the poinsettia first grew in America. Forgotten, too, is the statesman and botanist who brought us this touch of wild beauty from Mexico. But, though most us do it unknowingly, we do honor the man--for the poinsettia plant was named for him--Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett.

Hope you enjoyed this Christmas trivia. It's great to remember those who've blessed us in various ways during this holy season. Do you have a Christmas blessing or story to share? Be sure to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to share this blog on your social media.

Merry, Blessed Christmas to you and yours is my prayer,
Elva Cobb Martin