Poinsettia A Charleston Name

IMG_2330The #Poinsettia that is such a Christmas tradition gets its name from a Charlestonian – Joel Roberts Poinsett. He was a Charleston attorney who was very fond of plants and trees, and created a massive garden in the upper peninsula that became known as Poinsett’s Grove. He was apparently a brilliant man who enjoyed the company of great thinkers, and was known for hosting breakfasts, at which ideas were offered and discussed with great scholarly detail. With a reputation as a scholar, a jurist, an elected congressman, and fluent in various languages, Poinsett became a trusted diplomat, and was appointed by President John Quicy Adams as ambassador to the newly-independent Mexico in 1825.

Poinsett was as interested in Mexican plants as politics, and became enamored of the fiery-red blooming shrub known Flor de Fuego, or Fire Flower, as well as Flor de Noche Buena, or the Christmas Eve Flower. It’s scientific name was Euphorbia Pulcherrima, but after Poinsettia brought the plant back to his grove and cultivated it as a Christmas ornamental flower, and by the 1840’s, it became known as the Poinsettia. It is one of the most recognized plants in the world today, but few know how it got its name. It is pronounced “poyn-Setta” for the benefit those TV football commentators who pronounce the Poinsettia Bowl game with an “eeah”.<img src=”Charleston Gardens” alt=”Historic Charleston”>

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