flaming red poinsettia, the flowering plant for this season of love, joy, and cheer

This flowering plant with its large leaf-shape bracts in colors of red, white, or pink; with a yellow pistil in the center of the colored bracts makes a beautiful Christmas decorations around the house. The actual flowers, or cyathium of the poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are the clusters of yellow cup-shaped structures that are located in the center of the colorful bracts. The flowers have both male and female reproductive organs and have no fragrance to attract pollinators. The showy red bracts serve that purpose and attract the insects to the poinsettia. When the flower detects a visitor, the cyathium glands ooze their nectar to lure the insects onto the surfaces of the flowers. The pollen from the flowers is transferred by the insects as they move from plant to plant feeding on the nectar.

the real flower of the poinsettia

close-up view of yellow flowers, or cyathium

The flaming colors of the bracts can be accelerated by placing the plant in total darkness for a period of time. This method is called “photoperiodism.” There are so many wonderful facts and stories written about this traditional Christmas plant, and the list is endless. Did you know that December 12th is Poinsettia Day?

With all the characteristics about this plant, I was interested to find out if the plant is a good source for contact printing. I was in luck, a local store was having a sale last week. I bought a few to decorate the house and a few more to experiment with. I am convinced that the green bracts will give some color; and the red bracts will need a modifier (iron water), in order to print.

For this experiment, I took a branch and dipped the plant in an iron solution (made from rusty objects), before I placed it on a piece of wet silk. Then the fabric, along with the plant material was bundled up tightly with strings, and left in simmering water for about 2 hours. I let the bundle sit overnight in the pot before I opened it the following day to see the results of my experiment. I am happy with the results as it does what I had predicted. Below are results and pictures from this experiment and I am happy to share. I would be back next year, happy holidays!

leaves and bracts of the bloom on wet silk

before and after

before and after

dark colored and no more red, a result from the iron solution

anxious to see the magic underneath the leaf

peeling the surface to reveal the result

a lovely stained leaf print in hues of green and speckled  grayish brown on veins

dark charcoal prints in center (red bracts), a result from iron oxide in the iron solution that reacts with the tannin in the plant materials

A special note: unlike mistletoe and holly, which are highly dangerous plants; poinsettia is not deadly poisonous–but it could still cause an upset stomach if consumed. The milky sap from the plant may be harmful to people with allergies and sensitivities.

~Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.♥

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

This entry was posted in dyeing, eco printing, seasons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s