noun \pin-ˈse-tē-ə, ÷pint-, ÷-ˈse-tə\

: a plant with large red, pink, or white leaves that look like petals

Full Definition of POINSETTIA

:  any of several spurges (genus Euphorbia) with flower clusters subtended by showy involucral bracts; especially :  a showy Mexican and Central American plant (E. pulcherrima) with tapering usually scarlet bracts that suggest petals and surround small yellow flowers

Illustration of POINSETTIA


New Latin, from Joel R. Poinsett †1851 American diplomat
First Known Use: 1836


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).—Grant Heilman Photography

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.


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