Euphorbia heterophylla

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Painted euphorbia
Euphorbia heterophylla with cyathia.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. heterophylla
Binomial name
Euphorbia heterophylla
  • Agaloma angustifolia Raf.
  • Cyathophora ciliata Raf.
  • Cyathophora heterophyla (L.) Raf.
  • Cyathophora picta Raf.
  • Euphorbia calyciflora Sessé & Moc.
  • Euphorbia elliptica Lam.
  • Euphorbia epilobiifolia W.T.Wang
  • Euphorbia frangulifolia Kunth
  • Euphorbia geniculata Ortega
  • Euphorbia havanensis Willd. ex Boiss. nom. illeg.
  • Euphorbia linifolia Vahl nom. illeg.
  • Euphorbia lockhartii Steud. nom. inval.
  • Euphorbia morisoniana Klotzsch
  • Euphorbia pandurata Huber
  • Euphorbia prunifolia Jacq.
  • Euphorbia taiwaniana S.S.Ying
  • Euphorbia trachyphylla A.Rich.
  • Poinsettia frangulifolia (Kunth) Klotzsch & Garcke
  • Poinsettia geniculata (Ortega) Klotzsch & Garcke
  • Poinsettia havanensis Small
  • Poinsettia heterophylla (L.) Klotzsch & Garcke
  • Poinsettia morisoniana (Klotzsch) Klotzsch & Garcke
  • Poinsettia prunifolia (Jacq.) Klotzsch & Garcke
  • Poinsettia ruiziana Klotzsch & Garcke
  • Tithymalus heterophyllus (L.) Haw.
  • Tithymalus prunifolius (Jacq.) Haw.

Euphorbia heterophylla, also known under the common names of (Mexican) fireplant,[2] painted euphorbia,[2] Japanese poinsettia,[2] desert poinsettia, wild poinsettia, fire on the mountain, paintedleaf,[2] painted spurge,[2] milkweed,[2] and kaliko plant, is a plant belonging to the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family.


It is a native plant of Mexico, and its original distribution includes an area spreading from California to east Texas and to much of Central America.

This plant has been introduced to South and Southeast Asia as an Ornamental plant, having become a weed in India and Thailand, where it has invaded cotton fields and other agricultural terrain.


Euphorbia heterophylla after losing coloration of its cyathia

It is a hardy, ruderal species, growing between 30 and 70 cm in height. The leaves at the upper end of the stalk, close to the cyathium, have a striking, scarlet red coloration.[3] Leaves are mainly 2-4 lobed and 4–7 cm long by 1.5–3 cm wide. Their contrast with the lower dark green leaves gives this euphorbia most of its common names.

The stalk exudes a toxic milky white latex. The cyathia or false flowers, are located in clusters at the head of the stalk and are yellowish green. They have no petals, the red color being part of the young leaves' coloration. The fruits are small, segmented capsules.

This plant often loses its coloration when it grows wild as a weed. It is resistant to herbicide.[4]


Toxicity is documented in most members of the genus Euphorbia. Individuals sensitive to latex are known to have strong reactions, including dermatitis and anaphylaxis, to the latex exuded by this plant.


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