A horticulturist in Hveragerði, South Iceland has been experimenting with multicolored poinsettia varieties and given the classic Christmas flower a makeover just in time for the holiday season. RÚV reports that Birgir Steinn Birgisson has successfully cultivated white, yellow, and hot pink poinsettias that will join their traditional red cousins on shelves this November.
Birgir Steinn gave reporters a tour of his greenhouse and was particularly pleased with the pink poinsettias. “We decided to give this variety—it’s called J’adore in French—a shot because October is a pink month,” he explained, referencing Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its pink ribbon campaign. “And also because this colour is so beautiful, which is why it got the name J’adore—that means ‘I love you,’ or ‘I like you,’ ‘you’re wonderful.’”
The J’adore poinsettia cultivar was developed by the Dutch pot plant breeder Dümmen Orange and introduced to the market in 2017, but had not been successfully cultivated in Iceland before now.
Birgir Steinn’s first pink crop quickly sold out and he says that Icelanders have gone crazy for J’adore poinsettias already this year. He hopes the striking variety will continue to be cultivated in Iceland in the future and also that poinsettias return to their previous popularity in Iceland. The flower, which is called jólastjarna, or ‘Christmas star’ in Icelandic, was once a near-ubiquitous holiday decoration in Icelandic homes, but its popularity declined when the myth spread that the flower is poisonous, particularly to young children and pets.
The milky fluid in poinsettia leaves can cause mild irritation or allergic reactions if eaten in significant quantities, but Birgir Steinn says people needn’t be fearful and that most of the local crops are cultivated organically, without pesticides. As evidence of the flower’s harmlessness, he introduced his cat, a “good worker” who keeps the mice population in check around the greenhouse.