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Mexican fireplant, painted euphorbia

Habit Herbs, annual, with taproot.

erect-ascending, 20–100 cm, sparsely pilose to villous;

branches ± straight.


usually alternate, occasionally opposite proximally;

petiole 10–50 mm, pilose;

blade narrowly lanceolate to elliptic or broadly obovate (then usually pandurate and 4-lobed), often polymorphic on single plants, 30–200 × 20–140 mm, base acute, margins sparsely glandular-serrulate, hirtellous, flat, apex acute to obtuse, abaxial surface sparsely appressed-pilose, adaxial surface sparsely pilosulous to glabrate;

venation pinnate, midvein prominent.


usually campanulate, occasionally nearly hemispheric, 1.5–1.9 × 1.2–1.8 mm, glabrous;

involucral lobes divided into several linear, smooth lobes;

gland 1, yellow-green, stipitate, clavate, 1–1.4 × 1–1.2 mm, opening circular (occasionally flattened from pressing), with annular rim, glabrous;

appendages absent.

Staminate flowers


Pistillate flowers

ovary glabrous or puberulent;

styles 0.8–1.3 mm, 2-fid 1/2 to nearly entire length.


broadly ovoid, 2.8–3.8 × 4–5.3 mm, 3-lobed, usually glabrous, rarely sparsely puberulent;

columella 2.1–2.8 mm.


brown-gray to ashy gray, broadly deltoid, 2.4–2.8 × 1.9–2.4 mm, angular in cross section, dorsal face strongly acute-carinate, tuberculate, with broad rounded tubercles in 2 rows;

caruncle 0.1 mm.


arrangement: terminal dichasial branches usually 2, occasionally reduced to congested cyme, 1–2-branched (often congested and difficult to discern);

pleiochasial bracts 2–4, often whorled, wholly green or paler green at base, similar in shape and size to distal leaves;

dichasial bracts highly reduced, rarely absent in highly congested clusters.


peduncle 0.9–1.5 mm.


= 28.

Euphorbia heterophylla

Phenology Flowering and fruiting nearly year-round.
Habitat Disturbed areas, roadsides.
Elevation 0–500 m. [0–1600 ft.]
from USDA
Mexico; Central America; South America [Introduced, Ala., Ariz., Calif., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.Mex., Tex.; introduced also in Eurasia, Africa]
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[BONAP county map]

Euphorbia heterophylla occurs from the southern United States, where it is likely naturalized, south through Mexico and Central America to South America. Because of its weediness, the precise native range in tropical and subtropical parts of the New World is not well understood. It has become widely established also in warm areas of the Old World. Leaf shape in this species is highly polymorphic within both populations and individuals. Euphorbia heterophylla can appear superficially similar to E. cyathophora but differs in its stipitate, circular involucral glands and its floral bracts that are at most very pale at the base (never colored as is typical in E. cyathophora).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 12, p. 323.
Parent taxa Euphorbiaceae > Euphorbia > sect. Poinsettia
Sibling taxa
E. aaron-rossii, E. abramsiana, E. acuta, E. agraria, E. albomarginata, E. alta, E. angusta, E. antisyphilitica, E. arizonica, E. astyla, E. austrotexana, E. bicolor, E. bifurcata, E. bilobata, E. blodgettii, E. bombensis, E. brachycera, E. capitellata, E. carunculata, E. chaetocalyx, E. chamaesula, E. cinerascens, E. commutata, E. conferta, E. cordifolia, E. corollata, E. crenulata, E. cumulicola, E. cuphosperma, E. curtisii, E. cyathophora, E. cyparissias, E. davidii, E. deltoidea, E. dendroides, E. dentata, E. discoidalis, E. eriantha, E. exigua, E. exserta, E. exstipulata, E. falcata, E. fendleri, E. florida, E. floridana, E. garberi, E. georgiana, E. geyeri, E. glyptosperma, E. golondrina, E. gracillima, E. graminea, E. helioscopia, E. helleri, E. hexagona, E. hirta, E. hooveri, E. humistrata, E. hypericifolia, E. hyssopifolia, E. indivisa, E. innocua, E. inundata, E. ipecacuanhae, E. jaegeri, E. jejuna, E. laredana, E. lasiocarpa, E. lata, E. lathyris, E. longicruris, E. lurida, E. macropus, E. maculata, E. marginata, E. meganaesos, E. melanadenia, E. mendezii, E. mercurialina, E. mesembrianthemifolia, E. micromera, E. misera, E. missurica, E. myrsinites, E. nephradenia, E. nutans, E. oblongata, E. ocellata, E. ophthalmica, E. ouachitana, E. parishii, E. parryi, E. pediculifera, E. peplidion, E. peplus, E. perennans, E. pergamena, E. pinetorum, E. platyphyllos, E. platysperma, E. polycarpa, E. polygonifolia, E. polyphylla, E. porteriana, E. prostrata, E. pubentissima, E. purpurea, E. radians, E. rayturneri, E. revoluta, E. roemeriana, E. rosescens, E. schizoloba, E. serpens, E. serpillifolia, E. serrata, E. serrula, E. setiloba, E. simulans, E. spathulata, E. stictospora, E. strictior, E. telephioides, E. terracina, E. tetrapora, E. texana, E. theriaca, E. thymifolia, E. tithymaloides, E. trachysperma, E. trichotoma, E. vallis-mortae, E. velleriflora, E. vermiculata, E. villifera, E. virgata, E. wrightii, E. yaquiana
Synonyms E. geniculata, Poinsettia geniculata, P. heterophylla
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 453. (1753)
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