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2010-10-18 20:18:59
The poinsettia, a contemporary symbol of Christmas, was introduced to the United States and named after Joel Robert Poinsett in 1825. Poinsett was serving as the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico when he saw the plant growing on the hillsides of southern Mexico, where the plant is native. The Aztec Indians prized poinsettias and considered them a symbol of purity because of their brilliant red color. They made a reddish-purple dye from the colored "flowers", which are actually modified leaves called bracts. They also made a medicine against fevers from the latex sap of the plant.