History of the Poinsettia

Costa Maya Mahahual

Did You Know? –

Nochebuena /


Nochebuena RojoNochebuena, the Mexican name of the flower English-speakers call poinsettia, was discovered in Taxco and the valleys surrounding Cuernavaca. Known by the Aztecs in their native Nahuatl language as cuetlaxochitl, it is believed that they brought the plant from the tropical climate of Cuernavaca to their Aztec highlands for cultivation in special nurseries. Prized in the prehispanic era for the curative properties of the milk that dripped from the leaves, stems and flowers when cut, the pigment from the red leaves was also used to dye cotton fibers.

After the Conquest, the Spanish Franciscan priests posted to the Taxco area used the plants to decorate their Christian nativity scenes, creating its first link to the Christmas season. The nochebuena gained further attention when Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon, a resident of Taxco and the brother of a famous Spanish writer, Juan Ruiz de…

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