poinsettia leaves
Photo by Samantha Jean on Unsplash

Did you know that the poinsettia's main attraction is not its flowers, but its leaves?

The flowers of the plant are the yellow clustered buds in the center (termed “cyathia”). The colored leafy parts are actually bracts or modified leaves that turn color in response to the plant forming flowers. When buying a poinsettia, make sure it has the buds, preferably not yet open. Red is the most popular color, accounting for roughly three-quarters of all sales nationwide, followed by white and pink. There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias in a range of colors from red, salmon, and apricot to yellow, cream, and white (but not blue—these are a designer color created with dyes). There are also unusual speckled or marbled varieties with several colors blended together and new varieties are introduced yearly. According to the USDA Floriculture Statistics report, poinsettias accounted for about one-quarter (23 percent) of sales of all flowering potted plants; that’s $144 million out of a total of $618 million in sales of all flowering potted plants. Poinsettias remain the highest selling potted flowering plant. Of the traditional crops, Easter lilies are a distant second with $22 million in sales. Potted orchids are higher value plants, so rated second in value ($186 million in sales), but a mere 23 million were sold. Although every state in the United States grows poinsettias commercially, California is the top producer with over 6 million pots grown, followed by North Carolina with 4.4 million pots sold, and Texas with about 3.7million. Florida and Ohio, are next with over 3 million poinsettias sold.