Saturday, January 21, 2017

Birds Aflame - Bright Poinsettias...

These beautiful blooms are variations of the ubiquitous, traditional form of Poinsettia - that is variously referred to as Winter Rose, Étoile de Noël, Lobster Flower Plant, Mexican Flame Leaf. It is generally seen in the bright, eye-burning red and fuschia shades that are so intense that my camera simply cannot capture them, I invariably end up with a blurred pink that does the plant no justice whatsoever; hence the absence of 'flames' here.... Furthermore, the sight of those cheery, ruddy leaves, with or without glitter, throughout the whole Christmas period usually leads to a Poinsettia satiation point, The eye refuses to register the flower anymore and in so doing is blind to its real beauty.

What we might assume to be petals, are in fact 'bracts' - specialized leaves. Just as the colouration varies widely on these bracts, so too does the shape. Far from being the uniform brick red, with leaves fanning out in regular formation, the Poinsettia may be variegated, flecked,or splashed with a range of different of colours that burst out in an assortment of forms. What I found even more magical than the bracts themselves, were the intricate 'cyathia' that are at the centre of this crown. These are yet more false flowers, and form part of the misleading inflorescence of the genus Euphorbia to which the Poinsettia belongs.

The Poinsettia has become part of our festive Western culture, often a staple of many a sentimental Christmas-card scene, along with burning candles and cosy household hearths and snowy landscapes. However, its origins are far more exotic. The Cuetlaxochitl - "plant of Mexico City" was highly valued by the Aztecs who cultivated it for its medicinal qualities, use in dyeing material and, of course, its beauty. The last of the Aztec kings, Montezuma, fully appreciated the Poinsettia, as he did that other festive fixture; chocolatl. 
Finally a video with an extract of a Classical piece that couldn't be more English - any excuse to use it! The Lark Ascending....


  1. Lovely colours and detail in those photos! I'm glad to hear my walks are helping you feel motivated - good luck with the driving!

  2. Thanks! My level of driving skills doesn't necessarily match the motivation, but I'm hanging in there just the same!


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