Sunday, December 23, 2018


©2018 Michael Auld

How Discovery Is Misplaced

As stated above, Montezuma II (c. 1460–1520), ninth Aztec emperor, was the first person of importance to fully appreciate the beauty of the Cuetlaxochitl. The local Mexica (Aztec) named their flower, whose white, sticky sap provided them with a cure for fever and flowers a source of red and purple dye. 

In 1824, Pointsett, "during his stay in Mexico as the American Ambassador, wandered the countryside looking for Mexican plants that he had never seen. While walking down a road, he came across someone's large plant growing on the corner of their property." 

  • He took a cutting from the plant, shipped it home to South Carolina and grew it in his greenhouse. Renamed for him, the rest is history. Obviously, as it was the custom since 1492, the arriving foreigner who "found" an Amerindian object, had the privilege of either renaming it or being credited with being the "founder". So the Cuetlaxochitl became the Poinsettia.
  • "A nurseryman from Pennsylvania, John Bartram is credited as being the first  person to sell poinsettias under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima
  • In the early 1900's the Ecke family of southern California grew poinsettias outdoors for use as landscape plants and as a cut flower. Eventually the family grew poinsettias in greenhouses and today is recognized as the leading producer of poinsettias in the United States." [Poinsettias of many colors and varieties have become a multi-million dollar industry, worldwide].--
Found around the world today, the Cuetlaxochitl or ... "The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of GuerreroOaxaca, and Chiapas. Reports of E.pulcherrima growing in the wild in Nicaragua and Costa Rica have yet to be confirmed by botanists." --Wikipedia

Back in Jamaica for the Christmas break of 1963 after my first year at a DC university... First thing. Grab some sweet sugarcane, hang out on the front lawn next to the Poinsettia that my dad had planted the year before.  

The Christmas Season has prescribed traditions. However, one Aztec Emperor's love for a local flower became an American annual obsession.

Enjoy the entire SEASON that the flower blooms!

No comments: