Second Annual Poinsettia Trials Open House Dec. 5-7
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
November 28, 2007
David Goudreault photos
The second annual poinsettia open house at the UNH research greenhouses
next week will feature about 100 varieties of the plant that has come to
personify the holiday season.
Joel Poinsett would never believe it.
Not just that there is now such an assortment of what were once considered
roadside weeds but that they come in so many colors—purple, white,
yellow, orange, and even speckled. Multiple speckled, in fact; the White
Glitter variety has white leaves with red spots. Peppermint is a salmon color
with red speckles and the Peppermint Twist is mottled with ruffled leaves.
And new for this year’s trials: Ice Punch, a reddish poinsettia with
almost white crystals.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Guatemala, where they grow as large
as small trees. They are used to decorate churches at Christmastime. Legend
has it the practice began after a poor child with no gift to bring to the
nativity placed one of the wild plants on a church altar and the poinsettia
suddenly sprouted brilliant red leaves.
Joel Poinsett, a botanist and the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, brought
poinsettias to this country in 1825. Since that time, growers have been trying
to improve on their beauty.
Recent evolutions have sprung from the way people garden today, says David
Goudreault, assistant manager of the research greenhouses.
“There’s been a whole change in gardening and horticulture from
growing plants, getting out there in the soil and nurturing their growth
to growing plants simply as decorations,” Goudreault said. “People
have become decorators instead of gardeners and they want new colors and
varieties to match their décor.”
That’s why breeders turn to growing trials. And events like UNH’s
open house give growers the opportunity to get feedback from the public on
what they like and don’t like.
The 1,400 plants in nearly 100 varieties that will be on display during
next week’s open house were started in late July and early August.
About 600 of those are part of the trials. A wide assortment of poinsettias
will be for sale.
Colors range from shades of pink, apricot, and deep burgundy to variegations
of red, white and pink, with names like Cinnamon Candy, Valentine, Picasso,
Electric Fire, Shimmer Surprise, and Dolce Rosa, the first poinsettia hybrid
from a cross between the common poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, and a
wild species, Euphorbia cornuta.
The Poinsettia Open House takes place Wednesday, Dec. 5 through Friday,
Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to
6 p.m. on Thursday. There is also a 12-foot poinsettia tree on display in
the lobby of the Whittemore Center.
“We had a wonderful response to the open house last year,” Goudreault
says. “It’s very festive. It really gives a little taste of the