Christ­mas sea­son is in full bloom

The Oklahoman - - REAL ESTATE - Ju­lia Laugh­lin ju­lia.laugh­[email protected] ok­state.edu

One of the most beau­ti­ful signs that the hol­i­days are here is the ap­pear­ance of poin­set­tias in stores and gar­dens cen­ters.

The poin­set­tia is na­tive to Mex­ico, dat­ing back to the time of the Aztecs. While vis­it­ing, a botanist named Joel Robert Poin­sett, was struck by the beauty of the bril­liant red plants he found bloom­ing dur­ing De­cem­ber. He sent some plants home to South Car­olina, where they flour­ished in his green­house.

While the botan­i­cal name is Euphor­bia pul­cher­rima, the com­mon name, poin­set­tia, is the com­mon name. They have been mar­keted in the United States since the early 1900s and are now the No. 1 sell­ing flow­er­ing pot­ted plant.

The wide­spread be­lief that poin­set­tias are poi­sonous is a mis­con­cep­tion. Re­search has shown they are not poi­sonous. How­ever, they are not in­tended for hu­man or an­i­mal con­sump­tion, and peo­ple are ad­vised to keep poin­set­tias out of the reach of small chil­dren and pets.

The true flower is ac­tu­ally the small yel­low flower you see in the cen­ter of the col­or­ful “bracts.” Bracts are mod­i­fied leaves that de­velop a petal ap­pear­ance on some plants when they bloom. Col­ors avail­able have changed the past few decades, and to­day you have many color choices, in­clud­ing orange for Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity Cow­boy fans!

When se­lect­ing a poin­set­tia, choose a well-shaped plant with dark green fo­liage and well-colored bracts. Avoid

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