Christmas PlantsWhen you think of Christmas or holiday decorations you often think of Christmas trees, candy canes and holly. What we often fail to realize is that most of our quintessential holiday items are plants. This may be surprising, since we think of most plants of dying off in the winter, but in fact many are still alive and flourishing! We have selected what we believe to be the 'Top 5 Christmas Plants' and researched where they can be found, how they are incorporated into the holiday season and how else they are utilized in everyday life. These plants include...
Eastern White Pine
The Eastern White Pine, Pinus Strobus, is used not only for Christmas trees but for garland and wreaths during the holiday season. Eastern White Pine trees are a distant relative of the Douglas Fir and share similar qualities such as producing cones and having needles as leaves.
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Peppermint:
Peppermint, or mentha piperita, is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint (mentha aquatica) and spearmint (mentha spicata). It is part of the Lamiaceae family (mint family). Peppermint is used both medicinally and for cooking. It is the flavor component of so much including drinks, pastries, medicines, and of course, candy canes.
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Mistletoe
Viscum album is the traditional mistletoe species, native to Europe, that was first used as the Christmas "kissing plant". What most people don't know, however, is that the berries are actually poisonous! Mistletoe is a plant with a rich history and a large number of other similarly related mistletoe species. It is also said to have some medicinal properties.
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Douglas Fir
Pseudotsuga menziesii is cut down and used today in homes as Christmas trees. These trees are used as festive decorations for homes across America and all over the world. To botanists, this tree is recognized because of the distinguished cones that hide within the tree.
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Poinsettia
The Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a culturally and commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825.
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