: 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
Origin of POINSETTIA
New Latin, from Joel R. Poinsett
†1851 American diplomat
First Known Use: 1836
Rhymes with POINSETTIA
poinsettia noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
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.
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).—Grant Heilman Photography
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