December 12, 2016

poinsettiaThe poinsettia is the most popular holiday plant this time of year. They come in an array of different colors from pink, blue, purple, white, orange, even multi-colored but are traditionally red. You’ve seen these beautiful plants in every supermarket from November to December but they mysteriously disappear after New Year’s Day.

Many people toss them, knowing they will buy new ones next year. Others will attempt but fail to keep up with the 12 hours of dark that is required to alter the color on the bracts (bracts are the leaf-like structures that change colors). However, may fortunate and/or skilled gardeners will nurture their plants keeping them alive all year allowing them to grow to 10-feet tall, enjoying their colorful autumnal bloom.


Native to southern Mexico, poinsettias were originally used by the Aztecs for dye and medicinal purposes. The plant was introduced to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, who brought the plant back to South Carolina in 1828. He began propagating and dispersing the plant amongst his friends. By 1836, the plant gained the common name poinsettia. In honor of Joel Poinsett, December 12th has been titled National Poinsettia Day, marking his passing and honoring his botanical achievements.


Poinsettias are not poisonous, however, those with latex allergies or sensitivities might want to avoid the sap, which contains latex (check it out, latex is a natural product). What you should be concerned about are pets and children. It is not edible, and those with cats, dogs, horses, cows and birds should proceed with caution when this plant is around their animals.


Don’t throw your poinsettia away. This seasonal plant can bloom until March, and then be saved until next November when it will bloom all over again.  Check out UF/IFAS for tips on how to care for your poinsettia through the holiday season and beyond.

Happy National Poinsettia Day!







DPI Diary

November 13, 2015

Commissioner: Florida at tipping point in war against greening

Florida is at a tipping point in the war against greening, the disease that threatens the continued existence of Florida’s citrus industry. That’s what Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam told the Florida Senate Agriculture Committee at its Thursday meeting in Sebring. The industry is asking the state to invest $20 million for greening research in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Read the full story in the Lakeland Ledger here.

What’s that?

CaneHarvesterFacebook and Twitter friend Gene McAvoy posted a photo of this thing. Some sort of alien automaton? Nope. It’s actually one of U.S. Sugar’s cane harvesters. The sugar harvest got underway this week, so this machine is getting a workout. See the giant in action.

Factoids and tidbits gleaned from social media this week:

  • Our friends and neighbors at the Florida Museum of Natural History are doing a nice thing for K-12 students who have received an A for science. They can celebrate with free admission to the Butterfly Rainforest and “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibits. Just show your report card at the desk and enjoy.
  • Coinciding with Veterans Day, USA Today named the University of Florida one of the top 10 colleges for veterans. In fact, UF was rated number 5 on the list.
  • Florida growers are eying olives as a potential new crop. One reason locavores might be attracted to domestic product: a series of international scandals involving product misrepresentation of the product.
  • Thursday was Redhead Day and that fact was called to our attention by none other than Commissioner Putnam in a Facebook posting. He obviously took a personal interest. Hope you had a great day, Sir.

Don’t Pack a Pest

Linus the Dector DogThanksgiving is approaching and many of us have plans to travel. If that travel is international in nature, be sure to declare any agricultural items in your luggage. Don’t wait for an ag detector dog to discover it. You can check to see if items you plan to carry are legal by visiting http://www.dontpackapest.com on your computer or device. It’s easy



FDACS-DPI and CAPS Display at Fruit Growers Workshop

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry and the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) presented a display Saturday, March 8, at the UF-IFAS Fruit Growers Workshop in Gainesville. Pictured are FDACS/DPI staffers Cheryl Jones and Theresa Espok. (Photo by julieta brambila)

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