Poinsettia or Poinsetta?

Nearly everyone gets this wrong.

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Paul Ecke Ranch is an American plant grower. Located in Encinitas, California with production facilities in Guatemala, Ecke has grown to become the world’s largest Poinsettia (christmas star) producer with 50% market share.[

Paul Ecke Ranch the world’s largest Poinsettia (christmas star) producer According to the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, 80 percent of all flowering poinsettias in the world get their start in the greenhouses on this coastal city just north of San Diego.

German emigrant Albert Ecke began cultivating poinsettias in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles in 1909. Paul Ecke Jr. took over the family business in 1963 and expanded it heavily. Paul Ecke III took over Ecke Ranch in 1992 and started the business in Guatemala. In 2012 he sold the company. In 2015 it was taken over by Dümmen Orange.

Dümmen Orange represents a legacy of flora-cultural excellence more than a century in the making, providing the largest selection of superior flowers and plants on earth.

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It even started with Kate Sessions. She grew poinsettias on the hills in Mission Hills,” said horticulturist Lucy Warren with Friends of Balboa Park. “The ships would come in the hills and
they would see this beautiful bank of red on the hills.”

Katherine Olivia “Kate” Sessions (November 8, 1857 — March 24, 1940) was an American botanist, horticulturalist, and landscape architect closely associated with San Diego, California, and known as the “Mother of Balboa Park.”

80% of All Poinsettias Come From Encinitas

According to the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, 80 percent of all flowering poinsettias in the world get their start in the greenhouses on this coastal city just north of San Diego. The Ecke Ranch ships several million vegetative cuttings to growers in over 50 countries, and finishes thousands of potted flowering plants for Christmas, sold to wholesale and retail florist outlets in California, Arizona and Nevada. In fact, the poinsettia is arguably the most popular potted plant in the world today.

As for how to pronounce the plant’s name, Warren squashes any argument by saying emphatically “poin SET ee uh”

The word was formed by adding the usual pseudo-Latin -ia to the last name of Joel Roberts Poinsett, just as Clarke Abel’s name gave us abelia and William Forsyth’s name generated forsythia.

Joel Roberts Poinsett (March 2, 1779 — December 12, 1851) was an American physician and diplomat. He was the first U.S. agent in South America, a member of the South Carolina legislature and the United States House of Representatives, the first United States Minister to Mexico, a Unionist leader in South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis, Secretary of War under Martin Van Buren, and a co-founder of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts (a predecessor of the Smithsonian Institution).

How Joel Poinsett, the Namesake for the Poinsettia, Played a Role in Creating the Smithsonian

As a major scientific scholar in 19th-century America, the botanist and statesman was the first to argue the Smithsonian should be a national museum.

An accomplished amateur botanist, Poinsett brought a flower from Mexico that was renamed the poinsettia in his honour. He was instrumental in founding the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution.

As a major scientific scholar in 19th-century America, the botanist and statesman was the first to argue the Smithsonian should be a national museum

It’s that time of year, and the Smithsonian Institution is leaving no corner undecorated for the holidays. Garlands spiral up the banisters of several Smithsonian museums, and Douglas fir trees tower inside the museum entrances. At the very least, almost every Smithsonian building has what is perhaps the most ubiquitous holiday decoration: the poinsettia.

According to Monty Holmes of the Smithsonian Gardens, the horticulture team has grown some 1,700 poinsettias this year. With so many of the plants under his care, Holmes began investigating the original connection between it and the holidays. Surprisingly, he discovered a little-known link between the poinsettia and the Smithsonian.

As it turns out, the red-leafed plant was introduced to the United States by botanist and statesman Joel Poinsett (1779–1851), who as the first U.S. Minister to Mexico found the plant while serving there. The poinsettia is said to have been used by the Aztecs as a red dye and to reduce fevers.

And what was its connection to the Smithsonian?

Poinsett was a founding member of the National Institution for the Promotion of Science, which formed in 1840 to promote the study of natural history and physical sciences, among other fields. It is thought that the organization was founded with the intention of securing the James Smithson bequest. (Although Smithson had never visited the United States, he left his estate of $508,318 — about $15 million in today’s dollars — to establish in Washington, D.C. an institution for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.”) At the time, much debate was going on about how best to achieve Smithson’s request.

When Poinsett was United States Secretary of War in 1838, he presided over the United States Exploring Expedition, the first circumnavigation of the globe sponsored by the United States.

“He insisted when this global exploring expedition went out that it included scientists,” says Smithsonian historian Pamela Henson of Poinsett. “They collected geological, biological, anthropological specimens throughout the trip. They were called ‘scientifics.’”

The artifacts collected on that expedition were brought back to Washington, D.C. and put on display much like a modern-day museum exhibition at the Patent Office building (currently home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery). The exhibition was presided over by Poinsett’s National Institution. Poinsett was among dozens of who had strident convictions on how the money ought to be used; some thought it should be a library, others hoped it would support scientific research. But Poinsett was the first to argue that Smithson’s money should be used to create a national museum.

He basically interjected the concept of creating a national museum into the debate surrounding what to do with Smithson’s money,” says Henson. “He never succeeded in getting the money, but his push was what lead to the concept of the museum being part of the Smithsonian.”

As you peruse the halls of the Smithsonian Institution this Christmas, counting the poinsettias, remember Joel Poinsett, who planted the seed for the creation of a national museum.

William Forsyth (1737– July 25 1804) was a Scottish botanist. He was a royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society. A genus of flowering plants, Forsythia, is named in his honour.

Clarke Abel (5 September 1780–14 November 1826) was a British surgeon and naturalist.

He accompanied Lord Amherst on his mission to China in 1816–17 as the embassy’s chief medical officer and naturalist, on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks. The mission was Britain’s second unsuccessful attempt to establish diplomatic relations with China and involved travelling to the capital Pekin (Beijing) and the famous botanical gardens of Fa Tee near Canton. While in China, Abel collected specimens and seeds of the plant that carries his name, Abelia chinensis, described by Banks’ botanical secretary Robert Brown, “with friendly partiality”. However a shipwreck and an attack by pirates on the way back to his home in Britain caused him to lose all of his specimens. Abel’s Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China, 1818,[1] gives a detailed account of the collection’s misfortunes. However, he had left some specimens with Sir George Staunton at Canton, who was kind enough to return them to him; living specimens of the Chinese Abelia that we know today were introduced by Robert Fortune in 1844.[2]

There is a common (and even dictionary-sanctioned) alternative pronunciation for poinsettia.

Is the “poinsetta” pronunciation is a mistake, and whether people who use it should be corrected.

Consider that there are lots of similar cases of variants with a phoneme or two missing — february, surprise, etc. — and thae fact that such variants are listed in dictionaries is a good reason not to correct people who prefer them. And there are other cases where pronouncing the lost phonemes is actually a mistake — wednesday (at least in the U.S.), worcester, etc.

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