PORTLAND -- In the light-drenched green houses at Marbott's Nursery, you're carried away by the scent of citrus fruit and charmed by exotic flowers.

But the tropical plant that's earned owner Ernie Marbott 60 years of praise at his Northeast Portland business doesn't look tropical at all.

You won't find any big ones like this at chain stores, said Marbott, picking up a giant red Poinsettia. Most places grow little dinky things.

Not Marbott.

At his nursery started by Marbott s father in 1930 rows and rows of pink, red and white Poinsettias adorn the tables and floor.

Native to Mexico, the plants were first brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett, a U.S. Minister to Mexico. They grew in popularity in the 1940s, when Hollywood began using them to decorate Christmas sets. Marbott was one of the first people to grow Poinsettias in Oregon.

In 1953, I'd just gotten out of the service and (my father) let me build a greenhouse, said Marbott. I put the first Poinsettias in, but he never got to see them bloom because he died October 11.

These days, Marbott's son Larry Marbott does most of the Poinsettia-growing.

We want to do it the right way and show people what a Poinsettia's supposed to look like, said Larry Marbott. What other stores might use as a 'loss leader,' we grow as a profit-maker. We hope.

That's something long-time customer Julie Ann Edman appreciates about the nursery.

I think it's the joy and that (the Poinsettias) are blooming in the winter, said Edman. It's just beautiful.

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