December 12, 2011
poinsettia (noun)
\poyn-SET-ee-uh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a showy Mexican and South American plant with large usually scarlet bracts that grow like petals about its small yellow flowers
How do you use it?
To decorate her holiday table, Melanie's mother chose a large poinsettia plant and four white candles.
Are you a word wiz?

Today is Poinsettia Day, when we celebrate the plant that has become most closely associated with the Christmas season. How do you think the poinsettia got its name?

While you're enjoying the beauty of the poinsettia, keep in mind Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the American diplomat who introduced the plant to the United States in the late 1820s. It is a common practice to name plants after people. You probably know many plants named in this way. The shrub called "forsythia," for example, whose bright yellow flowers are a sure sign of spring, is named after British botanist William Forsyth. Other examples are "zinnia," named after German botanist Johann G. Zinn, and "begonia," named after Michel Begon, who was the French governor of Santo Domingo in the 17th century.
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