Poinsettia Leaves

The images above are those of the red leaf of the plant Euphorbia pulcherrima, better known as poinsettia. I came across these planted in my neighbour’s window planters and they seemed to stand out. On first glance, the leaves look like flowers and it took a few minutes of staring at them to realise that I was looking at the leaves of a plant and now some flowers. Since the leaf I used was very dry (I used a fallen leaf), I placed it in a small dish of water, and let it soak for a minute. This allowed the leaf to be flattened out without breaking. It took several tries to pan and find bits of the leaf and since the leaf curled up, there might be differences in sharpness of the image. The leaf also had this white hairy coating on the edges of the leaf, which can be observed in the left side of the image, while the leaf itself had a very smooth texture, with very tiny veins. 

Euphorbia pulcherrima, is commonly known as poinsettia, is a common sight at Christmas markets, where it’s used as an ornament. It gets its name from a botanist Joel Roberts Poinsett. The leaves of the plant are often mistaken for flowers, but the flowers of this plant are actually yellow in colour. The leaf’s distinct colour comes from the phenomenon known as photoperiodism, a physiological reaction to the period of time that the organism may spend in darkness[1].  The leaves of the plant may be toxic on consumption to animals. Perhaps, this is the reason that the colour

of the leaves are so bright, so as to act as a warning to herbivores that may eat the leaves of the plant. This has actually been the subject of many misconceptions about the leaves, but they only produces mild rashes to humans[2]

[1] Photoperiodism. (January 21 2020). Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/photoperiodism

[2] Poinsettia (December 3 2020). Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/plant/poinsettia

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