Joel Roberts Poinsett of South Carolina

For any of the residents or guest of The Cliffs Communities or The Reserve at Lake Keowee, you may notice a name that appears many times in many ways.  Poinsett Bridge, Poinsett Highway, the Poinsett Club of Greenville and even the once grand Poinsett Hotel.  So who was this Poinsett? Joel Roberts Poinsett was an American physician and diplomat born in bustling Charleston in 1779 and then educated in Connecticut and Europe.  He was a member of the South Carolina legislature and the United States House of Representatives.  During that time, he was appointed by President John Quincy Adams to be the first United States Ministry to Mexico!

During his time as Minister to Mexico, he visited the area south of Mexico City where he found what is now known in the United States as the poinsettia.  In Mexico, it is called “Flor de Noche Buena”, translated the Christmas Eve flower.  Poinsett, being an avid amateur botanist, sent samples of this plant home to South Carolina and by 1836 the plant was widely known as the “poinsettia”.  So when Christmas time rolls back around, know that the poinsettia that you are decorating with or have been given as a gift has a strong South Carolina history!

Now that you know so much about this distinguished gentleman and his accomplishments, you can plan to stop by the life-size bronze statue in Court Square of Downtown Greenville where he gave a speech in 1851.