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Author Topic: Christmas flowers
Gir Draxon
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posted 29 November 2003 12:27 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Could someone tell me about the cultural/social significance of poinsettias?

Because just recently, I have acquired two such plants through a fundraiser. I know who I am giving one of those to, but that still leaves me with this Christmas flower.

So what to do with a poinsettia? I was thinking about giving it to someone within my family, but the only family member I can think of who would really want something like this is already getting the other one for Christmas.

So I made some reference to this in a conversation with my father, remarking that I am considering giving one to the person who was the one strongly encouraging me to buy them in the first place. My dad said something to the effect that giving a plant like the poinsettia would be an insult to a younger woman. So not wanting to get into an argument, I just let the topic drop.

I'm not very adept in social graces- would it really be that much of an insult? and if so, why? And if not, why is it that poinsettias should only be given to "older women"? (alas, if Grandma was still around, then I would have no difficulty whatsoever with this).

Also, if my dad is right, I'd welcome any suggestions about what on earth to do with this silly plant?

The internet thus far has only given me the legend of their origin and how to care for them.


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
flotsom
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posted 29 November 2003 12:37 AM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
They're delicious.
From: the flop | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus
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posted 29 November 2003 12:39 AM      Profile for Lard Tunderin' Jeezus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not funny, flotsam- they're actually deadly. Seriously poisonous.
From: ... | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
flotsom
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posted 29 November 2003 12:44 AM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes funny! And now funnier.

quote:
Claim: Poinsettia plants are poisonous to humans.
Status: False.

Origins: Have you ever read a warning like the following?


Don't ever let your kids eat the poinsettias! They are deadly poisonous, and every year several poor unsuspecting little ones are killed at Christmastime by taking just the slightest nibble from a poinsettia plant.
Scary
stuff. Luckily for us, it's not true. It's a wonderfully persistent myth though, and it seems to have arisen from a long-ago death of a child's being attributed to the wrong cause. From a fact sheet prepared by Ecke Poinsettia Growers:


The poinsettia poison myth had its origin in 1919 when a two-year-old child of an Army officer stationed in Hawaii died of poisoning, and the cause was incorrectly assumed to be a poinsettia leaf.
Since that non-poinsettia death in 1919, there haven't been any real ones either. And no wonder: a 50 lb. child would have to eat more than 1.25 lbs. of poinsettia bracts (about 500 to 600 leaves) to exceed the experimental doses, according to the POISINDEX Information Service. (POISINDEX is the primary resource used by most poison control centers.) Further, the American Medical Association's Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants lists nothing more than occasional vomiting as a side effect of ingesting otherwise harmless poinsettia leaves. And in 1975 the Consumer Products Safety Commission cited lack of substantial evidence in its decision to deny a petition requiring warning labels for poinsettias. (Perhaps the confused warnings came about because the genus to which the poinsettia belongs -- Euphorbia -- includes several plants that are toxic.) The Floridata web site also addresses this legend on their page about poinsettias:


Every holiday season newspapers run stories about whether or not Poinsettia is toxic and to what degree. Although many species in the genus Euphorbia are highly toxic, poinsettia is not among them. Having said that, ingestion of this plant probably will make you sick (it just won't kill you).
Even with all that to dissuade anyone from believing in poisonous poinsettias, this is still a tenacious legend. Nearly 66% of those participating in a 1995 Society of American Florists poll still believed poinsettias toxic if eaten. A 1994 survey of 1,000 Americans by Bruskin/Goldring Research for the Society of American Florists showed that 42% of the males polled and 57% of the females polled also thought that.

Thom David, marketing manager of the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, has a way of convincing people otherwise, though. He's been known to grab a few bracts off the nearest poinsettia plant and eat them in front of persistent disbelievers. Seems to work, too -- they don't doubt him after that.

Speaking from "bitter" experience, he says it's unlikely a kid or an animal will eat more than one bite. He describes the taste as far worse than the most bitter radicchio. Frankly, he says, the flavor is indescribably awful.

Even if poinsettia is awful to eat, it's still nice to look at. The plant was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, an American ambassador to Mexico. In 1829 Poinsett was so impressed with the brilliant red "flowers" that he sent some home from Mexico to South Carolina, where they did very well in Poinsett's greenhouse. Poinsettias are also called the "flower of the Holy Night" because their red bracts are said to represent the flaming Star of Bethlehem.

Mexican legend has it that the poinsettia originated in a miracle. Having nothing to offer Christ on his birthday, a poor child gathered weeds into the form of a bouquet. Upon approaching the altar, the weeds transformed into brilliant red blooms. (Another version of this tale has the poor child's sadness causing the colorful plant to spring from the ground at his feet.) The product of a miracle, the poinsettia's colorful bracts became known as Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night.


snopes: urban legends

[ 29 November 2003: Message edited by: flotsom ]


From: the flop | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus
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posted 29 November 2003 12:51 AM      Profile for Lard Tunderin' Jeezus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Very interesting.
We haven't bought one because the rabbit has the run of the house, and we were afraid of the little guy eating any. Sounds like he wouldn't take more than one bite anyways....

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flotsom
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posted 29 November 2003 12:55 AM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
but don't even nibble this one!

I've been told that a thumbnail sized section of Indian Hellebore leaf is enough to kill a person.

I prefer spider toxin, myself. I have a neato apparently permanent dime-sized cold spot on my forehead from a spider bite.

Heh heh. I've tried a sliver death camus. DON'T Comes with a serious mf headache. Also. Do not smoke scotch broom flowers.

One of the more unpleasant poisoning experiences has to be the delirium induced by amanita muscaria. Also not reccommended.

But, like I said: poinsettias are delicious.

[ 29 November 2003: Message edited by: flotsom ]


From: the flop | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
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posted 29 November 2003 01:50 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
nah, maybe if I got it for free I'd consider trying to eat it, but I paid $30 for these plants, I'm darn well gonna make sure they go to the best use.

I was leaning towards giving one to that young woman I referred to in my first post, but after being warned against it I decided to seek out alternative opinions, especially those of people who are a little bit more in touch with the social customs that apply to those under 40.


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flotsom
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posted 29 November 2003 01:53 AM      Profile for flotsom   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bonsai makes a nice gift.
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al-Qa'bong
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posted 29 November 2003 03:55 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bah. Don't give her flowers. Give her vegetables.
From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
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posted 29 November 2003 04:53 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
*gives al-Qa'bong a confused look*
(Edited to add: Ohhh, having seen your vegetable thread I get it now. Ha, ha, ha )

And flotsom, I was wondering about the social impications of a specific plant, wheras a bonsai tree would not have any negative social stigma, thus it would be easy for me to give away.

[ 29 November 2003: Message edited by: Gir Draxon ]


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Michelle
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posted 29 November 2003 06:53 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
So I made some reference to this in a conversation with my father, remarking that I am considering giving one to the person who was the one strongly encouraging me to buy them in the first place. My dad said something to the effect that giving a plant like the poinsettia would be an insult to a younger woman. So not wanting to get into an argument, I just let the topic drop.

I'm not very adept in social graces- would it really be that much of an insult? and if so, why? And if not, why is it that poinsettias should only be given to "older women"? (alas, if Grandma was still around, then I would have no difficulty whatsoever with this).


That's just weird. I've never heard of that rule. I would be happy to be given a poinsettia, whether by a younger or older person.

Give it to your younger friend. I'm sure she'll love the gesture - she probably likes poinsettias if she encouraged you to buy them.

[ 29 November 2003: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
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posted 30 November 2003 10:14 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why not check out this lively conversation?

quote:
Posted by: koox on December 8, 2002 09:17 AM
I'm doing an assignment in school on poinsettas, can someone give me an idea what they are?

Posted by: steve on December 12, 2002 12:06 AM
wat is the origin of a poinsetta?? how did it bcome known as a xmas flower? wat is the indian name for this flower? how was it used in pre-columbian times? wat is the spanish name for it? and why is it called a poinsetta? im doing a xmas project too, on it.

Posted by: jordyn on January 3, 2003 09:18 PM
This is a photo.

There is no information on this site about Poinsettas.

Period.

Don't ask again.

Posted by: Kyle on January 3, 2003 09:31 PM
Okay, Koox. What is this Koox stuff anyway? Is that your Klu Klux Klan nickname, you bigoted burk? You take care of a poinsetta by watering, you stupid jack ass. IT'S A FUCKING FLOWER. That last sentence applies to you, too, steve, in case you were still wondering what a poinsetta was. Dick.


I didn't realise the the topic was so controversial...


From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
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posted 30 November 2003 10:18 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, you'll probably get better information here.

quote:
Poinsettia History and Lore
The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitle." During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.

Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.

William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name as it became more popular. At that time Mr. Prescott had just published a book called the Conquest of Mexico in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. So, Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.

The botanical name, Euphorbia Pulcherrima, was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow. The plant grew through a crack in his greenhouse. Dazzled by its color, he gave it the botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima meaning "very beautiful."


ps: They make for a great Christmas soup. I'd eat 'em, especially if you get a fever...


From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 30 November 2003 11:25 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitle."

Coelecanth chowder anyone?

*argh. It's deja voodoo all over again*


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
leftist-rightie and rightist-leftie
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posted 01 December 2003 02:58 AM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
hehehe

That "koox" conversation just keeps on getting better as it goes on

But I already knew the legend and how to take care of them. I am rather socially inept, and listening to my parent's advice alone is not something I really wanna do.

Michelle understood what I was asking, and thank you very much for your reply.


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 01 December 2003 05:10 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, don't listen to your dad, Gir. If there ever was such a stigma, it's long since been forgotten. I've certainly never heard of it. Most people would be pleased to get a poinsettia, especially around Christmas.
From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 01 December 2003 07:54 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gir Draxon:
I am rather socially inept,

Gir, sweetie, that's what comes of hanging around all those Canadian Alliance types. Come away from the dark side. You'll be so much happier.

quote:
Michelle understood what I was asking, and thank you very much for your reply.

You're very welcome.

BTW, I did a couple of google searches on traditional flower meanings and on giving poinsettias, and nowhere did I see that it is traditional for only younger people to give them to older people, or that it is offensive for an older person to give it to a younger person.

Most women I know love to get flowers, even if they're not very good with plants, like me. The first thing I thought when I read your post is that perhaps she might even have been hinting when she was so enthusiastic about getting you to buy the flowers.

P.S. I just read the rest of that "conversation" from the site that Performance Anxiety posted. I'm still laughing at that guy's rant. Holy geez, I'd say cut down on the coffee, d00d.

[ 01 December 2003: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 01 December 2003 09:34 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gir, I wouldn't mind being given a poinsettia, but then I'm an old girl, so that doesn't help. Still, aged though I am, I've never heard of the age taboo either.

To me, a poinsettia at Christmas is more decoration than plant because I've never been able to keep one alive for long. Maybe some talented people can, but mine have all lasted just long enough through the holidays, then shrivelled. But as a Christmas decoration, they are great.

For me, the plants that are great to get as presents are the ones you can save after they've flowered and then plant outside in spring (primroses, eg) -- or, of course, houseplants that will live long. But I'd never sniff at a poinsettia.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
babbler/dabbler
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posted 01 December 2003 09:44 AM      Profile for babbler/dabbler        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Has anyone looked into where these flowers come from and the cost of refrigeration and transport to Canada for Christmas.

I think you ask a person if they like several different flowers, including one you intend to give. I am a dedicated gardener, but there are certain plants I am not at all fond of....
no, I will not start a "horticultural debate" by naming them...
but as in all things, people have preferences. If you were given it, and you just don't want it...

When I get those, and I often do, I appreciate it when someone asks, I have this plant I don't want, would you like it? If I do I say, give it to me for Christmas, mother's day, birthday... there's always something day people feel they have to get a gift for.

Point is, as long as the giftee likes that plant, I think it is a good gift. Taboos be dammned!


From: Nova Scotia | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Polunatic
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posted 01 December 2003 10:21 AM      Profile for Polunatic   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Has anyone looked into where these flowers come from and the cost of refrigeration and transport to Canada for Christmas.

Believe it or not (and this is true), poinsettas are grown by prisoners at one of the Ontario correctional centres in Toronto and then sold to civil servants (and the public) at the MacDonald Block every December.

From: middle of nowhere | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
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posted 01 December 2003 03:59 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I am a dedicated gardener, but there are certain plants I am not at all fond of....
no, I will not start a "horticultural debate" by naming them...
but as in all things, people have preferences.

I think the real question is which houseplants taste best. As an avid garner myself, I can tell you that many houseplants are not only edible, but delicious too. It makes me sad that certain poinsettas mentioned in this thread became wilted and dead. These should have been eaten fresh as a salad, or, if slighly wilted, be diced up and put into a soup. With the correct ingredients and seasonings, house plants of all sorts can be transformed into gourmet delicacies that are sure to impress your guests.


From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
babbler/dabbler
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posted 01 December 2003 07:47 PM      Profile for babbler/dabbler        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
PA as you say lots of flowers taste great and if it is both beautiful and edible, well the gift is that much more valuable.
Some of the easiest to grow and tastiest are
calendula, violets, pansies, and lavender. Once I found this out, I started serving them to guests as they also made the food look so great.

That was until after one dinner when I heard a husband whisper to his wife, "I can go for organic and vegetarian but I think I draw the line at "fodder". I laughed myself silly!


From: Nova Scotia | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
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posted 02 December 2003 12:50 AM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
PA as you say lots of flowers taste great and if it is both beautiful and edible, well the gift is that much more valuable.

Yes, flowers are certainly tantalizing on the palatte. But let's not forget spider plants (great when deep fried in a batter), aloe (great fresh or in soups and salads), cacti (fried, must be de-thorned), and of course the African Violet (best baked into a pie or cake). Many houseplants are edible, and if you ever run out of money while waiting for that next cheque, you can sustain yourself in luxury by devouring them one by one.


From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
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posted 08 December 2003 03:06 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Anyone have any good recipes for Christmas Trees?


From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Sharon
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posted 08 December 2003 03:48 PM      Profile for Sharon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This year, I have 13 poinsettias. The two oldest are coming up to their eighth Christmas and are beginning to look like small trees. (They started out in the same pot but I separated them several years ago.) They and their first child have moved to Ottawa -- where I think they had a couple more offspring -- and then back to Halifax.

Each spring, I cut them all back severely. I poke the cuttings into rooting hormone, then into a pot of dirt and wait to see what happens. I put them all outdoors for the whole summer. Usually quite a few of the cut stems take root.

Now, inside, I put them into the dark each night and under a gro-light during the day. They're all beautiful and lush and full and green. Some of them will grow red bracts -- but not by Christmas. It's usually February when they start.

I will make a display of them for Christmas and will put some subtle and tasteful red accents among their green leaves.

Oh yes: I have never heard of a taboo connected with poinsettias as a gift.


From: Halifax, Nova Scotia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 08 December 2003 03:52 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sharon, I call that commitment!

Thanks for the instructions. I didn't know that it could be done.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Performance Anxiety
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posted 08 December 2003 05:52 PM      Profile for Performance Anxiety        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A MUCH better solution to letting them wilt and die! Thank you for the tips! This way we can eat them all year round - just make sure not to over-fodder, or then the plants may not recover.


From: Outside of the box | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
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posted 08 December 2003 09:15 PM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Problem solved: my order got messed up, so when I went to go pick them up I got one plant and a refund for the other.

But its still good to know that there appears to be no real taboo on them. Opens up options for the years to come


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged

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