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botanical name:
Euphorbia pulcherrima
Euphorbia pulcherrima © Deeproot Plant Base    view larger image
common name:  Poinsettia, Christmas flower, Lobster Flower, Flame-leaf Flower, flor de la noche buena
synonyms:  Poinsettia pulcherrima
family:  Euphorbiaceae
characteristics: perennial, evergreen, semi-evergreen
height: 5.00m
width: 5.00m
growth rate: medium
growth habit: bushy
leaf colour: red & green
flower colour: yellow
main season: Winter
poison symbol poisonous or irritant
aspect: full sun, part shade
conditions: moist soil
preferred soil pH: neutral-acid
minimum temp: 10°C
USDA zone: 10 to 11
description:
Normally seen as a small houseplant, but in the wild makes a large bushy, evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub. Well known for the colourful bracts that surround the insignificant yellow flowers in winter. The bracts are usually bright red, but there also white, cream, pink and bicoloured forms.

cultivation:
Full sun or bright part shade, with flowering brought on by short day-length. Moist, free draining compost which should be allowed to become drier during the dormancy period after flowering. Needs consistently warm temperatures, slightly cooler during dormancy, but plants will suffer badly if subjected to cold.

propagation:
From cuttings.

usage:
Very widely cultivated as a winter house plant and traditional Christmas gift.

other notes:
The name Poinsettia is from Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the 1820's and also interested in botany.

Cultivated by the Aztecs, who called it Cuetlayochitl, "mortal flower that perishes and withers", the red colour being symbolic of blood sacrifice.

Not as poisonous as many other Euphorbia, but the milky sap can cause skin irritation.

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