The poinsettia, a symbol of Christmas

The poinsettia, a symbol of Christmas

Heritage & Traditions

By Julia Muñoz

The poinsettia, (Flor de Pascua) as it is known in Cuba, comes from Mexico and Central America, and is the quintessential Christmas flower.

It acquires different names according to the countries where it is grown. In Mexico for example, it is called Pascuero and in Argentina Estrella Federal (Federal Star).

A curious fact about this species is that there are more than 100 varieties cultivated around the world. It is frequently used in gardening as a shrub, but mainly in floriculture as a houseplant at Christmas.

The main characteristic of this plant is its striking-colored leaves that make it very decorative. They are called bracts and have nothing to do with flowers, which are very tiny and have no decorative interest.

These bracts can be found in different colors: red, yellow, white, salmon, pink, among other shades, with red being the one that predominates in the market with the greatest presence. They are also usually sold as artificial ornaments, to decorate Christmas trees and interiors during the close of the year.

They usually bloom in winter. In the northern hemisphere it blooms from November to February and it is essential that the plant does not receive light for 12 hours, approximately from October until Christmas, so that it flowers only at Christmas.

In Cuba, it is common to find them in gardens planted in the ground, where they reach up to 4 meters in height and expand to the sides, as the space where they are planted allows it.