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Natural History of Holiday Plants Exhibit
Evergreens | Holiday Color | Poinsettia | Holly | Mistletoe
Christmas Cactus | Christmas Tree | Common Holiday Plants

Common Holiday Plants

Common Name Plant Family Species Notes
Poinsettia
Flor de Noche Buena
Euphorbiaceae
Spurge Family
Euphorbia pulcherrima Native to tropical America including Mexico
Mistletoe Viscaceae
Mistletoe Family
Species ofPhoradendron, Viscum, Arceuthobium Parasites or hemiparasites of other plants
Holly Aquifoliaceae
Holly Family
commonly Ilex aquifolium (Old World) or Ilex opaca (eastern United States) Most species are dioecious
Christmas Cactus Cactaceae
Cactus Family
Schlumbergera x buckleyii Native to Brazil
Christmas Tree Usually Pinaceae
Pine Family or
Cupressaceae
Cypress Family
Abies, Pseudotsuga, Pinus, Juniperus, etc. Local traditions may use other plants
Ivy Araliaceae
Ginseng Family
Hedera spp. Perennial vines native to the Old World
Toyon
Christmas Berry
Rosaceae
Rose Family
Heteromeles arbutifolia Native to southern California and Baja California
Peppermint Lamiaceae
Mint Family
Mentha piperita  
Ginger Zingiberaceae
Ginger Family
Zingiber officinale Native to tropical Asia
Chocolate
Cacao
Sterculiaceae
Chocolate Family
Theobroma cacao Native to tropical America
Nutmeg Myristicaceae
Nutmeg Family
Myristica fragrans Native to East Indies
Rosemary Lamiaceae
Mint Family
Rosmarinus officinalis Native to southern Europe
Laurel
Bay
Lauraceae
Laurel Family
Laurus nobilis  
Cloves Myrtaceae-Myrtle Family Syzygium aromaticum This family includes eucalyptus trees
Cinnamon Lauraceae
Laurel Family
Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum lourerii Native to tropical Asia
Christmas Rose Ranunculaceae
Buttercup Family
Helleborus niger Poisonous plant; native to Europe
Frankincense Burseraceae
Torchwood Family
Boswellia spp. Incense gum resin native of Africa and Asia; related to our Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla)
Myrrh Burseraceae
Torchwood Family
Commiphora spp. Aromatic gum resin native of India, Arabia, and eastern Africa; related to our Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla)
Sugar Cane Poaceae
Grass Family
Saccharum officinarum Native to the East Indies; used for sugar
Sugar Beet Chenopodiaceae
Goosefoot Family
Beta vulgaris Used for sugar
Yam Dioscoreaceae
Yam Family
Dioscorea esculenta  
Sweet Potato Convolvulaceae
Morning Glory Family
 
White Potato Solanaceae
Nightshade Family
Solanum tuberosum  
Wheat Flour Poaceae
Grass Family
Triticum aestivum  
Corn Flour
Maza
Poaceae
Grass Family
Zea mays  
Text by Jon P. Rebman, Ph.D., Curator of Botany