Poinsettia

(Euphorbia pulcherrima) Named after its discoverer, Dr J R Poinsett, in Mexico, 1828. This is the species with scarlet bracts that is often grown as a house plant. In recent years it has become an accepted Christmas plant in America. Evidently it was regarded as such in Mexico before Dr Poinsett discovered it, for its Mexican name translates as: Flower of the Holy Night. The Indians use it as an altar decoration on Christmas Eve (Kelly & Palern), the Holy Night of the name, or noche buena.

The latex is highly irritant, and is used as a depilatory in Mexico and Brazil. In South China, where it also grows, it has been used as a fish poison (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk).

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