Euphorbia “Snow on the Mountain”
Take a look at this! Does “poinsettia” come to mind? The first time I saw this once-a-year flowing bush, I was mesmerized by the tiny white flowers that, from a distance, looked like snow. The bush was at a friend’s home on the Hamakua Coast. She told me it was actually a poinsettia, and that it flowers in late fall through winter. I searched at all the garden stores in Hilo, finally finding my own example, and then planting it in our front-and-center flower garden as you approach our front door. The bush can grow to a medium height and likes to spread its branches, almost resembling a stubby tree. Each fall, I look forward to the tiny blossoms, my own rendition of snow on the Hamakua Coast.
December 12th is National Poinsettia Day!
The Poinsettia was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico during the 1820s. Ambassador Poinsett imported the tropical plant to his greenhouses in South Carolina, where he began propagating and distributing them. From these humble beginnings, much like the Easter lily, the popularity of the Poinsettia has increased to enormous proportions.
The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought of as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent His purity.
The reason we associate poinsettias with the holidays comes from an old Mexican legend. A young girl named Pepita was sad that she didn’t have a gift to leave for the baby Jesus at Christmas Eve services. From that day on, they became known as “Flores de Noche Buena,” or “Flowers of the Holy Night.”