La Cuetlaxochitl became the most famously misnamed holiday flower

Originally published at: La Cuetlaxochitl became the most famously misnamed holiday flower | Boing Boing


My Nahuatl is very rusty, but it looks to me that naming the flower as “La Cuetlaxochitl” is using the Spanish definite article “La”, as in English’s “The”, and can be dropped? I mean, if we want to disregard the racist and colonialist background naming of Poinsettias, we can go a step further and remove the Spanish Conquistadors as well. :slight_smile:

Either way, they call it in Pastoras (shepherd girls in Spanish) in some places of Central America too.


Thanks so much for this article. It’s heavy duty: beauty, angrifying and frustrating colonialism, and I learned much.

It makes me even more glad I somehow managed to keep last year’s cuetlaxochitl alive! My BF twice tried throwing it away, but he was vetoed and the plant was resurrected each time. It even began making red leaves during the Summer - there’s a lot of sunlight available in that SE room whenever we have any - and now has almost enough of them to look like a freshly purchased one. It needs much more frequent watering than many houseplants…and I really should start feeding them all.


For that matter it’s also kind of a misnomer to call it a “flower” since the celebrated red “petals” aren’t actually part of the flowering body of the plant. It is a plant that bears flowers, yes… but so is an orange tree.


Not that English has that much tradition of taking plant names from local languages…if not after Poinsett I have to imagine it would have ended up the Christmas eve flower or something. Luckily the scientific name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, doesn’t mention him and the only rule for common names is what you can get people to understand.


“The Most Beautiful Euphorbia of All.”

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