Popular flowering plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima), best-known member of the diverse spurge family. Native to Mexico and Central America, it grows in moist, wet, wooded ravines and on rocky hillsides. What appear to be flower petals are actually coloured leaflike bracts that surround a central cluster of tiny yellow flowers. Cultivated varieties are available with white, pink, mottled, and striped bracts, but the solid red varieties are in greatest demand during the Christmas season. Milky latex in the stems and leaves can be irritating to sensitized persons or animals, but the claim that poinsettias are deadly poisonous is greatly exaggerated.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on poinsettia, visit Britannica.com.