I often wish it were possible to hybridize them into trees so I could have a poinsettia Christmas tree instead of the same old fir, spruce, or pine we usually put up. Poinsettias take me into the Christmas spirit more than any other thing I can think of. Back in the day, it was my toddlers with their wide-eyed amazement and wonder leading up to Christmas morning (they’re teens now, who seem almost lethargic with it all, but that’s fodder for another post).
I’m sure most of you know that the bright red, white, or pinkish leaves on poinsettias are actually specialized bracts, colored so beautifully for attracting pollinators (humans do that for us out of season, so there’s really no need for the leaves to be so dramatic). The flowers are located down in among the bracts, almost hidden, and resemble little olives; the tighter the “olive,” or bud, the longer you’ll have colorful bracts.
You may have heard that poinsettias are poisonous, this isn’t all that factual. You’d have to eat something like a thousand bracts or so before you’d even get a tummy ache. When cut, stems seep a milky white sap that might irritate sensitive skin. The kitty in the above photo is around them a lot and seems not to mind, my guess is pets are not bothered by them either.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve not posted much about gardening lately. There’s a couple of reasons; one is that I write a weekly column for a local paper and like to mix it up here, the other you can find in the sentence under “The Write Gardener” in my header – “life in and out of the garden.”
It’s the Christmas season, I know you don’t need a reminder to (always) treat others with kindness, be happy with who you are, love your family, and your God, with all your heart, and if you ever hear of someone hybridizing a poinsettia tree, please let me know.