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Ask a Silly Question

December 14, 1999

How did the poinsettia plant become a Christmas symbol in America?

We can credit American Joel R. Poinsett, who became enamored with the now-familiar red Christmas plant while South of the Border and imported it to the United States. According to Encyclopdia Britannica, it was named for Poinsett, who popularized the plant and introduced it to floriculture while he was U.S. minister to Mexico in the late 1820s. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and Central America, where it grows in moist, wet, wooded ravines and on rocky hillsides.

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