Authors' Note: Joel Poinsett, South Carolinian physician and amateur botanist, served as the first US ambassador (a position designated as minister) to Mexico. In the 1820s, he sent home to his greenhouses samples of Euphorbia pulcherrima (member of the spurge family), then known as nochebuena, associated in Latin America with the Christmas story. Distribution of the poinsettia in the US was enhanced by other horticulturalists' development of cultivars with a more lush profusion of the colored bracts, and more recently, by variants in various appealing colors. Today, a single nursery in Texas accounts for 70% of American sales, and half of all global sales of this decorative seasonal potted plant.
Incidentally, although the plant is assumed by many to be toxic, that possibility appears based on an incorrect original report, and is unsupported by other evidence.