Today's Wonder of the World is...the Poinsettia!
Flickr photo by jacilluch
Are you a poinsettia lover?
Or have the dime store fakes turned you against the lovely flower? Have you relegated the poinsettia to the corner of your brain saved for Christmas kitsch?
Flickr photo by suzysputnik
Personally, I like a little Christmas kitsch.
Maybe you don't like poinsettias because you haven't found the right variety.
Flickr photo by munkymu
Are you a purist, preferring only Christmas red? Or do you walk on the wild side, experimenting with gold, pink, white, or (gasp!) blue?
I'm curious. Do tell me in a comment. Pretty please?
Personally, I like the pink ones. Don't hate me, purists.
Maybe I'm a fan of the poinsettia because of its connection to South Carolina.
If not for Joel Roberts Poinsett, we might have to call it the Cuitlaxochitl, its Aztec name. I don't know about you, but I have no idea how to pronounce that. I'd have to point or play charades.
Thank you Mr. Poinsett!
Flickr photo by twaller80
Whoops! That's not Mr. Poinsett. Still, let's linger here a moment.
So sorry about the mistake. It's just that every time I think of Poinsett, I think of the Poinsett Hotel in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, where George Clooney filmed Leatherheads.
Flickr photo by olympusjgreen
Remember when George came to town?
Back to Mr. Poinsett...
There he is. Not quite as dashing, but still, I do love a Renaissance man. Mr. Poinsett was a physician, a botanist and a Congressman for South Carolina, and the first US Ambassador to Mexico. He introduced the Cuitlaxochitl to the USA in 1828.
We named the poinsettia after him, the Poinsett hotel, and the Poinsett Bridge, near Saluda Mountain. Isn't it pretty?
Flickr photo by drdvdmoyer
Back to poinsettias...
Do you know the Christmas legend of how the poinsettia came to be? It dates back to sixteenth century Mexico. The story goes that a young girl too poor to buy a gift to celebrate Jesus' birthday was visited by an angel. The angel told her to pick a bunch of weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the altar. Red blossoms sprouted--the first poinsettia!
Did you realize that the red petals aren't petals at all? They're just pigmented leaves.
Sorry if this crushes you.
To cheer you up, take a look at the actual flower part of the poinsettia, the center part.
Flickr photo by http://snow.ipernity.com
Those yellow structures are called cyathia.
I LOVE them.
I LOVE to make crazy aliens out of them on Paintshop.
Next time you get a chance, look into the center of your own poinsettia. You may have an alien colony of your own!
Have a wonder-full Tuesday, everyone!