Monday, July 19, 2010

My Town Monday: San Diego and the Poinsettia

You know the poinsettia, that lovely plant you put out at Christmas? There was a time when the poinsettia on your coffee table probably started growing right here in San Diego County. For almost 80 years, about 80% of the poinsettias around the world began life in Paul Ecke Ranch greenhouses or fields in Encinitas (located on the coast, about 26 miles north of downtown San Diego). However, for economic reasons, in 1997, the Ecke Ranch licensed Armstrong Garden Centers to produce the plants. The ranch continues to research and develop more varieties of poinsettias and also geraniums.

In 1825, Joel Poinsett introduced the native Mexican poinsettia to the United States. In the 1920s, Albert Ecke figured this winter-blooming plant would make a great holiday plant. The poinsettia wasn't very well known, and he started selling it at roadside stands around Hollywood and Beverly Hills. In the 1960s, Paul Ecke Jr. went to a ton of trouble and effort, buying television and print ads, to promote a holiday season that included the poinsettia. He made sure poinsettias were always on the holidays TV sets of The Tonight Show and the Bob Hope Christmas specials. It worked. We now consider poinsettias a part of the Christmas season.

A few interesting facts about poinsettias:
-the more blooms on the poinsettia, the more you'll pay for it
-a fresh poinsettia doesn't have any yellow pollen growing on the flowers
-poinsettias are NOT poisonous
-California is the top poinsettia-producing state
-There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias.
-Dec. 12 is National Poinsettia Day. This is the day Joel Poinsett (the man who brought the poinsettia to the US) died.

In 2005, San Diego began an annual college football tradition where a team from the Mountain West Conference versus a team from the Western Athletic Conference in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. This year's game is on Thursday, Dec. 23 at 5pm @ Qualcomm Stadium.

How do you even pronounce the name of this plant? Here's a robotish voice saying "poinsettia". Warning: it's not the fastest link I've ever met. But, now I realize I've been mispronouncing "poinsettia" my entire life!


Laura Curtis of Women of Mystery: volunteers at Mt Kisco, NY

Jim Winter: Shots of downtown Cincinnati, OH from Mt. Adams

Debra of From Skilled Hands: Python Day in Peninsula, OH

Gabe of Gabe's Meanderings: the Assiniboia Downs racetrack in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

This week, I'm the hostess with the mostest for My Town Monday. So, if you've put up a MTM post, let me know in the comments section here or on the on the official My Town Monday blog. And I'll link to you on both blogs. Happy Monday!


Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

What a great post! I went to school in San Diego and I love poinsettias, and I never knew about the connection at all.

Thanks for this!


Barrie said...

Martina, I often give poinsettias as gifts to teachers. Now I know I'm giving a homegrown gift. ;)

debra said...

I've been pronouncing it correctly! I think I read a factoid about them at one time. Interesting and colorful post, Barrie.

Clare2e said...

I didn't know that about the poinsettia's CA origins as a popular plant. Interesting, Barrie!

About the pronunciation: My TX family said poinsett-a, and I go haphazardly between that and "-ia." i always figured it was like "pecan." Pick your pleasure!

Barrie said...

Debra: Glad you enjoyed the post!

Barrie said...

Clare2e: I like your idea of treating the pronunciation of "ia" or "a" in whatever way strikes my fancy. ;)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Well, I'll be darned!

Gabriele Goldstone said...

As if San Diego doesn't have enough going for it - poinsetta headquarters, too! Wow. Very interesting.

Even though they have nice creamy white ones, and pink ones, and candy-cane ones, I still like the red ones the best. I've never been able to re-bloom one of them - every year i must buy another.

Barrie said...

Green Girl: See? You never know what we'll get up to down here!

Barrie said...

Gabe: I can never get them to rebloom either. They just go all leggy.

Teresa said...

I didn't know that poinsettias came from San Diego. That was really interesting. I learn so much from your MTM posts

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Merriam-Webster gives it two pronunciations: tia and ta at the end. I like to mix it up though and alternate. :)

Barrie said...

Alyssa: I am following your leading and mixing it up with the pronunciation!

Barrie said...

Teresa, I learn a lot about San Diego putting these posts together. ;)

David Cranmer said...

Learn something new everyday. I didn't know the poinsettia came from Mexico but by the moniker I should have known.

Barrie said...

David, I hadn't thought of it either. Actually, I hadn't thought much about poinsettias until I did this post!:)

laughingwolf said...

i always corrected those who said 'poyn-setta'... enduring the eye rolling of all!

the 'i' before the 'a' is NOT silent

good to know i've been right all these centuries! lol

thx barrie