Poinsettia, Lobster flower, Flame leaf flower
Poinsettias are a nursery plant very popular at Christmas time.
With it's fantastic contrast of brilliant red and deep green leaves, this
native of Mexico is a true nursery plant as sold today. It is difficult to get
them to re-flower - this short day plant requires long, dark, un-interrupted
nights for about two months and any interruption in the night period will reset
or set back the cycle. Commercial producers graft two varieties together to give
a compact, bushy appearance. Infection with a specialized type of bacteria known
as a Phytoplasma (a naturally occurring disease organism) induces an
abundance of buds, a symptom of the infection.
The bright red leaves are actually bracts (a specialized
leaf associated with flowering) and the flower cluster (cyathia) is relatively
insignificant. When buying a Poinsettia watch for one that still has it's pollen
by inspecting the flower cluster in the center of the bracts. A small amount of
yellow pollen showing is fine but if you see a lot then the plant will soon shed
its bright red bracts. Cost is related to bloom count, the more blooms present on a poinsettia the more
expensive it will be. Red varieties tend to be the most popular but white and
pinks are also available.
No longer classified as extremely toxic.
as a poisonous plant came from the case of a child in Hawaii who ingested a
single leaf. This report was based on hearsay and subsequent studies have not
shown the plant to be severely poisonous. Reactions for
humans range from dermatitis from contact with the milky sap to nausea and vomiting if ingested. Avoid contact
with the eyes.