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Ecke Family Sells Poinsettia Ranch in North County

Aired 8/20/12 on KPBS News.

The Ecke family, known for developing the poinsettia as a Christmas favorite, is selling their ranch in Encinitas.

The Ecke family, known for developing the poinsettia as a Christmas favorite, is selling their ranch in Encinitas.

Poinsettia plants.
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Above: Poinsettia plants.

The sale of the Poinsettia Ranch marks the end of the Eckes' long legacy in North County.

Albert Ecke arrived in Los Angeles in 1906 and applied his love of growing flowers to develop the iconic red poinsettia as the flower no Christmas show can do without. He moved the operation to Encinitas in the 1920s when Hollywood got too crowded, and his son, grandson and then great grandson, Paul Ecke, carried on the poinsettia-growing tradition in North County for the next 90 years.

But the none of the next generation of Eckes is interested in pursuing the business, which has become more competitive due to industry consolidation.

The Eckes have announced they are selling to Agribio, a Dutch based company, which will "strengthen their supply chain" and "focus their marketing."

Most of the flower-growing operation moved to Guatemala years ago, and much of the flower fields have been developed. But the city of Encinitas has resisted efforts to build houses and commercial developments over all the land.

A separate sale to the Leichtag Foundation of almost 70 acres of Ecke land next to the ranch remains in effect. It remains to be seen what will happen to that undeveloped land in a city where open space is under increasing pressure.

The team at the ranch says it is remains committed to breeding quality poinsettia.