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Euphorbia heterophylla

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.

Painted euphorbia
Euphorbia heterophylla with cyathia.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia
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 is native to tropical and subtropical America but is now widespread throughout the tropics. Many herbicides fail to control it and hence it has spread rapidly in many parts of the world.[3]

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.[citation needed]


Euphorbia heterophylla after losing coloration of its cyathia

Euphorbia heterophylla grows between 30 and 100 cm tall and has hollow stems that may be branched or simple with angular ribs. The leaves of the plant have variable shapes within and between populations. The lower leaves are alternate whereas the upper leaves are opposite and commonly have a whitish or bright red base.[4]

Within 30 days of emergence the plant may flower with ripe seeds being formed between 25 and 30 days later. It is pollinated by insects which are attracted to large amounts of nectar the plant produces.[4]

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. There are populations that have been identified to have resistance to specific herbicides in South America.[5]


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.


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Euphorbia heterophylla". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  3. ^ Wilson, A. K. (1981). "Euphorbia heterophylla:a Review of Distribution, Importance and Control". Tropical Pest Management. 27 (1): 32–38. doi:10.1080/09670878109414169. ISSN 0143-6147.
  4. ^ a b "Plant Production and Protection Division: Euphorbia heterophylla". Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  5. ^ Herbicide Resistant Weeds

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