Poinsettia leaf close-up
© Charles Floyd/Alam
Festive foliage. The festive foliage of poinsettias
We're getting a close look at a poinsettia, a popular plant around Christmas time. Although many people assume the red, white, pink, purple or marbled colours are flowers, they're actually bracts, a type of leaf that helps reproduction, usually by turning colour as the plant develops true flowers. On the poinsettia, the bracts, surrounding small yellow clustered buds called cyathia, flag down pollinators just as flower petals do.
And while we're talking poinsettias, let's dispel a dark myth about this cheerful festive plant: They are not fatally toxic to children and pets. It’s thought that a 3.5-stone child would have to eat about 500 leaves to see any ill effects. Those ill effects? Let's just say they're of a gastrointestinal variety and leave it at that.