FARMINGTON — For almost a year, a poinsettia brought to the Franklin Journal office last December has been green. Now the top is turning red again.

According to Wikipedia, the poinsettia was described as a new species in 1834 by German scientist Johann Friedrich Klotzsch. Prior to being named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and the first U.S. Minister to Mexico,  it was known as “Mexican flame flower” or “painted leaf”.

Poinsettias are shrubs or small trees, reaching heights of 2-13 feet. The colored bracts—which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves. The flowers are grouped within the small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch.

The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color.

The ‘office’ poinsettia sits on a desk beside a large window facing Route 2 and 4. It received routine watering but nothing more. A bit of red started showing in early November.

Last week, more than 20 leaves were either partially or completely red just in time for another holiday season.

In early November, this poinsettia at the Franklin Journal office showed hints of red. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

By Nov. 22, this poinsettia at the Franklin Journal office showed quite a bit of red. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

On Dec. 13 the poinsettia at the Franklin Journal office had more and brighter red bracts. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

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