by Peter Lapshin
|CULTIVAR / КУЛЬТИВАР|
e-Magazine about exotic forms of Cactaceae
ENGLISH / RUS-(Win1251)
MAGIC CHRISTMAS FLOWER
Alex Butova, Riga, Latviya (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Who only did not write about this wonderful plant - Euphorbia pulcherrima – Milkweed the Finest or Poinsettia, one of the most popular and favorite plant. Before Christmas when flower shops are offering these beautiful winterly plants which shine as alive Christmas stars, I would like to write about it a little bit more!
Everyone know how looks the poinsettia now. But primary it was a tall, rangy shrub that grew upto 3 meters tall. It had large, dark green, oval leaves that are "toothed" on the sides and pointed at the tips. They emerge from smooth green erect stems. The plants will naturally come into full bloom during November or December. The most common color choice is the deep, vibrant red. However, there is a wide array of other colors available, including pink, white, marbled, speckled, and yellow. The colorful parts of the poinsettia, the bracts, are actually modified leaves. The poinsettia flower is small, it is green or yellow, and situated in the middle of the bracts.
The star looking bracts do a plants very attractive. There was difficult to grow indoor these strong shrubs. Later in result of selecting works new compact varieties of poinsettia were made. Modern plants are more branchy, more decorative, their sizes do not exceed 30-45 cm tall and blooming period is two-three months.
The first name "Euphorbia" was given in honor of antique physician Euphorb, first who began to use it's lacteal poisonous juice in medicine. Another part "Pulcherrima" –"The Finest" was given for the extraordinary form of flowering. Poinsettia is perfect houseplant. This milkweed unlike other succulents, loves water and humid air, it can survives short dryness periods only. Dependent upon low temperature and raised humidity the plant can wonders of gray mold. In result of abnormally light regime bracts are developing irregularly, leaves turn yellow and drop. Sometimes poinsettia wonders of white flies.
The poinsettia origins from Mexico. Aztecs named this plant Cuetlaxochitle. During XIV-XVI centuries bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye and in cosmetics, also white juice of poinsettia was used to control fevers. When the new capital Mexico-City was built, last King of Aztecs Montezuma has ordered to bring poinsettia and to grow wherein.
Further when the Mexican people have embraced Christianity, they began to name this plant "Flor de la noche Buena" - Christmas Eve Flower. There was a hart-piercing legend how this flower became a symbol of Christmas. Once there lived the cousins Pedro and Pepita which did not have any gift to be brought to Church on the Christmas Eve. Children were walking to church and very sighing for they poverty gave them no way to welcome Lord birth. Then Pedro picked usual weeds which were growing in plenty along waysides. Pepita has made a shamefaced bunch of it. Children considered that even the most modest gift if it is presented with love may be given to Lord. When they came into the church with this "bouquet" in their hands, weeds were colored in red and green colors, and all the churchgoers who have came on Christmas service have understood that became witnesses of the divine miracle created by the Lord.
The name "Poinsettia" was given to Euphorbia pulcherrima in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the ambassador of the United States of America and the botanist-amateur. On 1820 Doctor J. R. Poinsett was appointed for the first ambassador of the USA in Mexico by president Andrew Jackson. At the time of his appointment, Mexico was involved in a civil war, the country was torn apart with internal contradictions but not looking on entanglement and delicacy of his basic mission, J. R. Poinsett found time for his hobby. He introduced American elm into Mexico; further this plant has found its new native land in this country. During his stay in Mexico the ambassador wandered for new rare plants were grown there. On 1828 he has casually went along any back street and found the beautiful shrub with greater red flowers on it. The wonderful plant has sunk deep into the botany-fan mind and in 1829 when J. R.Poinsett left Mexico-City, he took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in USA. A game of destiny: even though . the diplomat had an outstanding career as the congressman of USA he will always be remembered for introducing Euphorbia pulcherrima into the United States.
Botanical name of Euphorbia pulcherrima has been appropriated to a plant by German botanist Wilenow. However the historian and horticulturist William Preskott was asked to give Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name - "Poinsettia" which became more popular than scientific. At that time W. Preskott just published the book called conquest of Mexico. Also in this book detailed story about ambassador Poinsett and his new plant. Later in the USA was hold a new holiday – Poinsettia National day fixed on December, 12th, in day of J.R.Poinsett's death.
I shall not write about poinsettia growing. There is written much enough about. I shall stop on two moments only.
The first. When flowering period completed dormant period started. The plant drop the leaves and looks lifeless. Some people simply throw out it. But if you have some patience with poinsettia you will not difficult to make it manifold florescence. When the plant will start to drop foliage actively, it is necessary to prune it to 10 cm from a soil. Then put it in cool dark place and reduce watering. In the middle of May increase the watering and repot the plant in a greater pot with a root ball attached. Continue regular watering and fertilizing till a new shoots will appear. Redundant shoots have to be removed and can be used as cuttings, however primary you have lowered them into warm water for 20 minutes for a lacteal juice flowing down. At the end of September it is very important to assure following light mode: in the early evening cover a plant with dark lightproof polyethylene pack. The plant should spend in darkness 12-14 hours then a pack removed, and there comes a "day" for the plant. Such mode should be supported within eight weeks, and to Christmas you will have again a wonderful flowers becoming even more strongly and more beautiful.
And the second. Juice of all milkweeds is considered as poisonous and probably your organism will react for ingress of lacteal juice on your skin with allergic reaction on it. In any cases nausea and diarrhea are possible. Therefore if you are working with poinsettia is better to use a rubber gloves.
The poinsettia is king of the holiday table decorations. You can use groups of potted specimens to bring color and warmth to entryways and dark corners. Use them to hide the base of the Christmas tree. The British botanists selected a new variety named Winter Rose. It is miniature plant, its bracts are like an old English rose, its colored in red, coral, pink, cream and white. When you see this flower for the first time you can't understand that it is really poinsettia.
Poinsettia has an reasonable price, and it is easy to care for. These flowers are filling our hearts with joy. In dark winter time when strongest frost are freezing all around, in this dark and uncomfortable season give for yourself a small holiday, buy beautiful poinsettia!
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