Plants are often prized for their flowers, but that isn’t the case for the Poinsettia. The showy portions of this popular holiday plant aren’t petals or even flowers at all. Instead, they are modified leaves known as bracts. The flowers, called cyathia, are located at the center of the bracts. Each cyathium contains one female flower surrounded by many male flowers as well as glands that secrete nectar.
I’ll admit I don’t generally run out to purchase a Poinsettia during the holidays, but I have one this year, thanks to my colleague, Amanda McNulty. She bought one for our holiday episode of Making It Grow! and generously gifted it to me once we finished filming. It has the traditional red bracts you might imagine if I asked you to close your eyes and picture a Poinsettia, but if you’re looking for something different or non-traditional, consider visiting a local nursery. If your experience is like mine, you’ll leave with a new excitement (and perhaps a new plant.)
For more information on this traditional holiday plant, visit HGIC 1561, Poinsettia.