CLEMSON — Wild, heirloom and modern poinsettias in full flower grace the lobby of Clemson University’s R.M. Cooper Library this month. The colorful plants have been cultivated by Clemson horticulture students.
One highlight of this year’s display is a wild poinsettia, grown from plants that horticulturist Jim Faust found in Jalisco, Mexico, last November and brought back to Clemson.
“This could be the first time wild poinsettias have ever been on display in the United States,” said Faust. “Even the original plants sent to the U.S. in 1828 by South Carolina’s Joel Poinsett had already been domesticated by the Aztecs.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said. “We wanted to see if a wild one placed and grown in a greenhouse with modern production methods is going to look like one of the domesticated plants from the 1920s or if it is still going to look wild. In fact, it still looks a lot like the wild ones, although in the wild it grows 15 feet tall.”
Faust noted some new poinsettia colors among the modern varieties in this year’s display, such as the yellowish Autumn Leaves.
“The idea was to give the display November tones for the Thanksgiving season,” he said.
Other varieties on display include Winter Rose, Jingle Bell Rock and the popular Ice Punch. Heirloom varieties, dating back to the 1920s, also can be seen.
Banners and historical documents help guide visitors along the implausible route the humble poinsettia traveled, from gangly Mexican shrub to iconic Christmas flower.
This release provided by Clemson University.