Tag Archives: poinsettia

Your Christmas poinsettia

Did you know?

It’s the time of the year when poinsettias invade our lives.

Scott #1256 Poinsettia

Scott #2166 Poinsettia

Did you know that the poinsettia is a succulent? Yes! It’s true! It’s scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima. The genus Euphorbia has over 2,000 species, making it one of the largest genera of flowering plants.

Did you also know that those red leaves are not flower petals. Those simply are modified bracts, or colored leaves. They help draw bugs and insects in to the flowers for pollination because the flowers themselves are very small.

Here in San Diego, poinsettias grow year-round and bloom year-round, and they can get to be a small tree or bush about fifteen feet tall. Here are a couple that I see on a regular basis:

Poinsettias at San Diego State University

Euphorbias are spurges. They have a white, milky sap called latex. That latex has varying amounts of diterpenes and oxalates in it, which can cause skin irritation. If it gets in contact with mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth, the result can be extremely painful inflammation.

If you get this stuff on you, wash it off immediately and thoroughly with an emulsifier such as soap, or even milk. If inflammation occurs, get emergency medical help because permanent blindness and kidney damage can occur.

Consequently, because these things are so beautiful, children like to touch them and smell them. Don’t let them! Pets also are attracted to them, so keep them out of reach of those jumpers and chewers.

My wise old grandmother had several poinsettias growing along the driveway in Kingsville, Texas. My basketball court was the driveway, and sometimes we’d lose the basketball in the poinsettia bushes, which had broken stems at that point. I’d often notice inflammation and itching whenever I got the sap on me but never made the connection. I mean, it was South Texas, full of bugs and such, so after playing basketball for a couple of hours, one expected to be a little itchy.

It was until my second year living with my wise old grandmother, in 1967, that I was tasked with pruning the poinsettias. If you cut them back in October, they will be absolutely gorgeous in December. After pruning them one day, I spent the night in the hospital. I was one great big ball of inflammation. That was back in the days before the medical industry in South Texas understood euphorbia latex, and that incident was my last experience with poinsettias. I have never had them in my house at Christmas time.

Another plant that my wise old grandmother had a lot of as the Crown of Thorns. Notwithstanding its many thorns which make it look like a cactus, it is not. It is a succulent, a spurge, a euphorbia—Euphorbia millii. I do have many crown of thorns because the thorns act like an early warning system, making it easy to keep the sap off my skin. Most of my Euphorbia millii are hybrids, with big, beautiful “flowers”:

Euphorbia millii

Euphorbia millii

Although I have been growing cacti and succulents since 1968, it wasn’t until January 1, 2017, that I started learning their scientific names. Turns out that my gardens are full of euphorbias. Always have been, and they all have that caustic latex. Not all people experience the worst from the euphorbia latex, but I do.

Except for my crown of thorns, my euphorbias are small with large bodies rather than stems, making them easy to care for and easy to keep the sap off me. Here are some of the euphorbias in my gardens:

Euphorbia anoplia
Euphorbia anoplia

Euphorbia spiralis
Euphorbia spiralis

Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’
Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra'

Euphorbia stellata
Euphorbia stellata

As an aside, 50% of the world Christmas poinsettia market is produced right here in the Encinitas, about 20 miles north of downtown San Diego.



SNIPPETS (7-8-18)



Which one should I buy? $24.50 each, so price is not the determining factor.

Mammillaria species


I’m currently cataloging Russel Ray Photos pictures from October 2017. Here are some pictures from the annual Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show here in San Diego in October 2017. The annual air show is said to be the largest air show in the United States.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego


I have spent time in Death Valley National Park in California where the temperature hit 123°F. I have spent time in Palm Springs, California, where the temperature hit 116°F. On July 6, the temperature on my shaded catio reached 112°F, making this the hottest place I have ever lived.



Here is Zoey the Cool Cat enjoying that 112°F on her catio.

Zoey the Cool Cat enjoying her catio

She is looking at the thermometer after I had taken a picture. Perhaps she’s thinking, “That can’t be right.”


Laughter for your Sunday.

When you do the magic trick for dogs

When you do the magic trick for a cockatoo



Don't leave your kids in the car!


I got addicted to cats back in 2006 when a feral black cat came to visit on Thanksgiving. I gave it food and water; it ate and drank, and left. It returned on Christmas Eve. Hmmmmm. “A cat that knows human holidays,” I thought. I gave it food and water; it ate and drank, and stayed. Sadly, it got run over by a car on September 20, 2007. We got Zoey the Cool Cat on September 21, 2007.

On July 6, around 8:00 a.m., a feral cat came to visit me while I was working in my cacti & succulents gardens. It was very friendly, but no collar and extraordinarily skinny. I gave it food and water; it ate and drank, and left. I had Euphorbia sap on my hands at the time, and since I’m quite allergic to that sap, I went inside to wash my hands. By the time I came back out, skinny kitty was gone. I do hope it comes back.

I did get a picture of skinny kitty.

Skinny Kitty


I thought it was “bombs bursting in air,” not “bombs bursting on ground.”

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar air show in October 2017 in San Diego


I watched Blade Runner (The Final Cut) the other day. I didn’t like the original Blade Runner back in 1982 when I saw it. I did like it much better this time around, maybe because of those final cuts, but I don’t remember the original that well so I don’t really know. Margaritas were good, though. When was the last time you went to a movie theater that served margaritas?


Out here in the East San Diego County boondocks we don’t have many spiders. I suspect that’s because the billions of lizards eat them. So imagine my excitement when I found a rather large spider while out in my gardens the other day.

Garden spider


I’m not a big fan of posting pictures of surgery scars, blood, etc., online, so I’ll just tell you that this Euphorbia enolpa got me good the other day while I was planting it. And I mean good.

Euphorbia enolpa

I’m quite sensitive to Euphorbia sap, which I discovered back in 1966 when my wise old grandmother made me prune her poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima), so in addition to having a very bloody arm, I had a very swollen arm.

Euphorbia sap often sends people to the hospital and has been responsible for a few deaths as well. If you get this white, milky sap on you, wash it off immediately, and certainly don’t touch your eyes, mouth, ears, or nose while you have sap on your hands.

Euphorbia sap also can be very toxic to your dogs and cats.


Something’s quite wrong if your event results in so many lost children that you have to set up a LOST & FOUND CHILDREN center. Either that or there are some seriously delinquent people called “parents” running around.

Lost and found children


I’m also very sensitive to gas, but you and I can’t smell gas when it’s in the parts per billion. Also, if your gas company hasn’t added odor to the gas, you won’t be able to smell it anyway.

If the gas is strong enough, I still might not smell it per sé but I start coughing, wheezing, snorting, hacking, eyes watering. If that happens unexpectedly, I look around for a gas source. Such happened to me a few years ago while sitting outside the LiveScan office waiting my turn to get LiveScanned so I could teach chess in after-school enrichment programs. The LiveScan clerk came to check on me, I sounded that bad. I told her my suspicion since there was a huge gas tank nearby. Here’s the letter I got from them a few days later:

LivesSan letter




I’m sure they specialize in death with dignity.

Death Dealers


Our home with Zoey the Cool Cat is surrounded by three cities, two of them on the smaller suburban size. Both had fireworks on July 4. I couldn’t see them but Zoey the Cool Cat and I certainly heard them. She was not happy. I went to the bedroom and laid down on the bed with her to comfort her, talking to her in a soft, soothing voice and rubbing my hands and head all over her. She was happier but every occasionally there was one of those really loud things and that kept shaking things up for us.

There is such a thing as silent fireworks, and I became a big proponent of them this year.


This was the first year in several decades that I didn’t go somewhere to watch the fireworks on July 4. With Twitler and his ilk destroying everything about the United States—National Parks, EPA, health insurance, families, public education—and the constant lies, I just am not very patriotic right now.


The Bam Boo Inn somewhere in the East San Diego County boondocks.

The Bam Boo Inn


Here’s my latest newsletter creation for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society. Lots of links inside to good Facebook groups and YouTube videos that I have created this past month.

July 2018 newsletter for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society


As many times as I have been to The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens, I had never been to the Desert Garden. It was always so difficult for me to get through the library and art galleries since they are closest to the entrance. On June 29, Jim and I went to The Huntington with my sole goal being to stroll through the Desert Garden. Here’s my video of the stroll:

If you have never been to The Huntington in San Marino, California (east Los Angeles County), put it on your Bucket List. You won’t be disappointed.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Did You Know?—Euphorbia, Datura & Brugmansia

Did you know?

When I was living with my wise old grandmother from 1965-1973, one of my “chores around the house” was pruning the billions and billions and billions of oleanders forming a fence around our property. I hated those things (which is why I have never had oleanders on any of my properties) because I was severely sensitive to oleander sap. I quickly learned to wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and gloves when pruning those blasted things. Hmmm. Deep south Texas and a teenager working outside with long shirts and long pants. Hated it.

Another plant that I am overly sensitive to is actually a plant genus: Euphorbia. Some of you might know that the common Christmas poinsettia is a Euphorbia, Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias grow year-round here in San Diego and can get about 20 feet tall, making a beautiful statement at Christmas time when they bloom.


Another common plant around our homes is the “Crown of Thorns,” Euphorbia millii.

Crown of Thorns

My wise old grandmother also had poinsettias and crowns of thorns, both planted along the driveway. Well, guess where this tall, skinny dude had his basketball court? Inevitably a missed basket would result in the ball bouncing over to the poinsettias and crowns of thorns, and breaking branches, getting sticky sap all over my basketball. Poinsettias and crowns of thorns were also on my “Never in my own yard” list. Because poinsettias and crowns of thorns are succulents, though, I have had them in my home and on my property simply because I plant them out of the way and forget about them. They can survive on the water that Mother & Father Nature provide them, and since they are out of the way, I don’t have to prune them. The Crown of Thorns picture above is from one of my past gardens.

When I arrived in San Diego in April 1993 and started exploring, I found a plant that grows wild, is very beautiful, and has a heavenly scent, especially at dusk: Datura.



I never saw Datura in a nursery, though. Eventually I found out why. It is very poisonous, especially their flowers and seeds, and people like me can develop a severe skin rash when the milky white sap gets on our skin. Their common name is Devil’s Trumpet.

Related to Datura is a plant that IS found in nurseries although it is just as poisonous: Brugmansia.

The Brugmansia’s common name is Angel’s Trumpet. The Angel’s Trumpet in the picture above is from one of my past gardens. It bloomed year-round, so the scent outside the master bedroom window was out of this world. I think the window was always open at dusk to let the fragrance in.

Brugmansia’s are difficult to find in nurseries and are usually carried by the smaller mom-and-pop nurseries. I recently found a small yellow one that is now outside waiting for me to transfer it from nursery pot to the ground, although the longer it waits, the more I’m thinking about putting it in a large glazed pot.

A side story to Datura and Brugmansia is that if the flowers are boiled in water, they create a “tea” that, when drank, creates a “natural high”—delusional and hallucinogenic euphoria. Sadly, this natural high can paralyze the vocal chords; cause liver failure, dry mouth, blurred vision, and incontinence; and even cause death. About every five years or so, some high school students here in the San Diego area learn the hard way about getting a natural high from these two plants. Animals, especially dogs and cattle, also are affected negatively when they eat the plants.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Friday Flower Fiesta (12-29-17)—Macro pictures

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have never done any type of photography that involved people. No portraits, no weddings, no graduations, no reunions. I just didn’t want the hassle of dealing with people.

I never did certain other types of photography, like macro photography, because I deemed the equipment to be too expensive relative to the results. That has changed. Recently I saw some extraordinarily awesome macro photographs using a lens that was within my price range: the Tamron 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD. Sure glad they never named cars like that!

I bought one.

Following is my first set of pictures taken with my new macro lens. You just knew they were going to be either plants or Zoey the Cool Cat, yes? Well, Zoey the Cool Cat was not being cooperative so you’ll just have to make do with macro pictures of these plants. Happy Friday!

Many people think the red things are the flowers.
They are not. Those are flower brachts.
The green things here are the flower buds
but the flowers aren’t much bigger.
The flowers are what plant people call “insignificant.”Poiinsettia

African violet
I learned a lot about nature after my wise old grandmother adopted me
in December 1965. One of her joys was her collection of African Violets. Although I have an extraordinarily green thumb, I never could get
African Violets to do well after I bought them. Until this year.
This little one is on its second bloom cycle with me.
African violet

Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
I am a huge fan of Aeoniums, and this is one of my favorites.
Aeonium 'Sunburst'

Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe delagoensis)
This has been one of my favorite plants since I was 11.
Little plantlets grow on the edge of the leaves.
They drop off, hit the ground, and start their own lives.
This particular one is ‘Pink Butterflies.”Mother of Thousands

I have no idea what this is and the pot I bought it in didn’t have a name
other than “Succulent.” As a friend of mine who owns a succulent nursery
likes to say about plant names, “Who cares? If you like it, buy it.”
I bought it.

Milkwort (Polygala myrtifolia)
Seven of these plants were growing at our new home.
Since I think they are kind of pretty, I kept them.

Pussy Willow (Salix sp.)
When I lived in northern Utah (1961-1965),
pussy willows grew everywhere. I liked them.
They are long lasting and look great in a large vase.
This is from a group that I bought in 1999.
Pussy willow

These last three pictures are Osteospermum flower buds.
I was experimenting with various f/stop settings
to give me different depths of field.



Which one is your favorite?

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Friday Flower Fiesta (4-4-14)—Photographic Art postage stamps

Friday Flower fiesta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A selection of photographs of flowers that I found showing off this past week. Fortunately, they were not bullying anyone, so I let them go to Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America and show off there, too.

1¢ Kangaroo Paw stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

2¢ Amaryllis postage stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

3¢ Aeonium stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

4¢ Bottlebrush stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

5¢ Calla stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

6¢ Clivia stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

7¢ Poinsettia stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yes, poinsettias are blooming in San Diego in early April. They bloom year-round here and grow into large, scraggly bushes, getting up to 15 feet tall.

Poinsettia 15' tall

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Photographic Art stamp offer

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Use code FTNSD to get a 20% discount through April 14, 2014.


Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy


If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray