Meet the Euphorbiaceae

Poinsettias_20091218_PLH_5602

I can guarantee that you are familiar with at least one member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae. Especially at this time of year, we decorate our halls not just with boughs of holly, but with Poinsettias. Typically bright red, you can now purchase plants with flowers in shades of white and peach, and even a variegated combination.

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Save the Poinsettias!

I’ve been down with the crud that has been going around. Luckily, I don’t have to come up with an inspirational year-end post; the Utah State University Cooperative Extension has done the job for me. I urge you to watch their short video on the torture and destruction of post-Christmas poinsettias. Then take action. Please.

Love Poinsettias? Thank a Phytoplasma.

poinsettias_20091218_plh_5604For many of us gardeners, poinsettia plants are an essential element of our Christmas decorating. I love the huge displays at church and in the stores, even if I don’t have room for that many in my home. I’ve written about how to keep the plants alive (see my 2012 post on “Pretty Poinsettias”). But this year I learned something new.

When I was small (I had my sixth birthday on the trip), my parents and I spent four weeks traveling around Mexico, from early December to early January. It was a wonderful time to visit, with all the Christmas and New Year celebrations. One common sight we couldn’t miss were the gardens full of bright red poinsettias in full bloom.

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Pretty Poinsettias

Poinsettias_20091218_PLH_5602Everywhere we turn, we see red. Poinsettias decorate our homes, churches, businesses and stores. How did a tropical plant become such a pervasive symbol of Christmas? Are poinsettias poisonous? And what should I do with my plants once the holidays are over?

With their bright red color (although they also come in salmon and white now), it’s not surprising that we like to brighten a dreary winter landscape with poinsettias. It’s  too bad they’re only available during the holidays; they’ll live for years given the right care.

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