Cuetlaxochitl is the Nahuatl name the Aztecs gave to poinsettias, native not just to Mexico but to our state of Morelos.  The Aztecs used it to make a red dye and for ritual ceremonies.  The conquering Spanish friars converted it to Christian rituals with the red leaves representing the blood of Christ. The original plant is a bush growing over six feet in height, like my neighbors’ plants in the photo. The first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, took it back to his native South Carolina in 1825 and humbly named it after himself.  In the US producers created numerous hybrids sold today in small pots. Trademarks prevent Mexico from exporting its native plant to the US.  The stories of its toxicity are exaggerated. You might get a stomach ache if you ate it but you’d have to eat 500 brachts to die.

CNN.com Mexico’s Spanish page covered news of the industry Dec. 2, 2014 : The Secretary of Agriculture announced that production of 19 million plants was expected this season with a value of 700 million pesos.  Most of the production occurs in Morelos (34.5%), Puebla, Michoacán, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Mexico State, and the Federal District.

Jardines de México, the largest flower garden in the world, half an hour south of Cuernavaca, has filled its Jardin de Cuatro Primaveras with poinsettias.

Poinsettias at JDM

Poinsettia beds in Jardines de México.


In addition, they have planted a sensational floral carpet of 1500 square meters made from 8000 plants

poinsettia carpet

Floral carpet of 8000 poinsettias, photo courtesy of Jardines de México.

Jardines de México has made hundreds of poinsettias into feathers on its welcome peacock.

Peacock of poinsettias

Poinsettia Peacock, photo courtesy of Jardines de México.

 Finally, my Santa Calavera, in his modesty, loves to have a poinsettia to cover his privates, as he wishes you all the best for a Happy Holiday Season .

Jim Horn
Santa Calavera

Santa Calavera, casa de Jim Horn


  1. Thanks, Jim – I remember seeing poinsettias all over Cuernavaca when I was there in the winter.

    For some reason, when I click on what I think should be a link See more, nothing happens. shouldnt it take me to an expanded story? This happened in the e-mail you sent and also when I went to the web site. Dunno why..

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I assume you will go to Acapulco at some point during the holidays? I will be here with Nancy and Steve, which is fine after all the travel I have done this fall!

    Un abrazo – Susan ****************************** Susan Ansara 4471 Superstition Drive Las Cruces, NM 88011 Phone: 575-521-1121 (H) 575-649-8786 (C) e-mail: ansara@me.com *******************************

    • hi Susan, the “see more” thing has not appeared previously. You got the whole story, a brief one. I will wait until after Jan 1 to go to Acapulco since it is THE most popular Mexican destination and the week between Christmas and New Years is a zoo with bumper to bumper traffic, lines in restaurants, and chaos in the parking areas. I went twice in the last month so I’m not suffering. Merry Christmas to you, Nancy, and Steve.

  2. Jim, My singing group is known for our performance of Spirit Child, a Christmas story written by one of our tenors that includes a couple of pieces in Nahuatl, so I passed on your information about the poinsettia plant, Thanks for your Christmas gift
    Wishing you Feliz Navidad! Phoebe

  3. Hi Jim, I love your Santa Calavera and his poinsettia bikini. Bob and I wish you Feliz Navidad

  4. Hi Judy, sorry I didn’t get the usual notification of a comment. The largest flower garden in the world
    opens in March 30 minutes from here. Hope your travel plans for 2014 will include a visit. My best
    to you and Bob. Happy New Year.

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