The True Poinsettia Flower

December 23, 2015


Photographer: John Ehman
Summary Author: John Ehman

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) flowers are found in tiny clusters at the center of the famously prominent bracts — modified leaves that many people assume to be flower petals. The actual flowers have no petals. Rather, they're curious-looking structures called cyathia, from the Greek for cup. Each cyathium is made up of a single female flower and many male flowers, along with yellow bulbous glands that secrete insect-attracting nectar. The photo here is of the center of a mature plant, with two female flowers (near the top) that have emerged from the within their cyathia with distinctive styles above the ovaries. The multiple male flowers on each cyathium grow long stamen holding yellow pollen on the end (anther). Plants at this stage of maturity will soon lose their leaves. So, for long-lasting poinsettias, avoid those with centers that show signs of mature structures indicating that the plant is well along in the reproductive cycle. Photo taken December 5, 2015.

Photo Details: Camera Maker: OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.; Camera Model: E-M5; Lens: LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45/F2.8; Focal Length: 45 mm (35 mm equivalent: 90 mm); Aperture: ƒ/10.0; Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100); ISO equiv: 800; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.0 MacIntosh.