We’re all familiar with poinsettia flowers. These bright red, iconic, Christmas plants are a staple of many American households. However, there’s a surprising amount of misinformation surrounding them, and few interesting facts that aren’t generally known. Rhine landscaping, your year-round plant and landscaping experts, is here with a few things your may not know about poinsettias.


Botanical Name

There’s a lot of confusion as to whether “poinsettia” is the plant’s proper, botanical name, so let us set the record straight: It isn’t. Plant taxonomy officially lists Christmas poinsettias as Euphorbia pulcherrima, which translates to “the most beautiful Euphorbia.” While “poinsettia” looks like a scientific name, it is in fact a reference to the United States Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsett introduced the species to North America on a return trip from Mexico in 1828.

What Are Poinsettia’s Actual Flowers?

What most people refer to as the flowers of a poinsettia plant are not flowers at all! These bright red, petal-like leaves are actually called “bracts.” While poinsettias do have flowers, they’re actually the small, green-yellow buds at the center of the bracts, hardly a noteworthy feature in comparison to the brilliant red of the bracts.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous or Harmful?

As many people have had pointed out to them at some point, poinsettia plants are not fatally poisonous if ingested (a myth that was quite widespread for a time). However, this has given rise to new myth: That poinsettia plants are completely harmless. The fact is, poinsettia plants can be very dangerous and not from being eaten (although eating them is certainly not recommended). This is because the milky sap that poinsettias ooze can cause dermatitis in those prone to skin rashes, with the consequences being extremely severe in some cases. If you have latex allergies, or other issues with sensitive skin, you may want to give poinsettia plants a pass this Christmas.

How is Poinsettia Pronounced?

Thanks to Ambassador Poinsett’s difficult to pronounce name, numerous mispronunciations and misspellings of the plant exist. Many spell the name “poinsetta,” for example (dropping the last “i”), while others add an extra “t.”

The word is also routinely mispronounced with many people inserting a “T” after the “N,” pronouncing it “point-SET-uh.” Dictionaries offer two acceptable pronunciations: “Poin-SET-ee-uh” and “poin-SET-uh.”

Rhine Landscaping is Here For The Holidays

Whether it’s poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, or any other conceivable plant, Rhine Landscaping has the knowledge and industry experience to offer you the very best in home and commercial landscaping year-round. If you’re interested in turning your dead yard into a winter wonderland, or employing a service to maintain an established landscape, call us at (410)-442-2445 or fill out our online contact form today!