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Euphorbia pulcherrima is a popular garden plant in tropical and subtropical areas and is well-known as a pot-plant associated with winter festivities in temperate regions. The common English name 'poinsettia' was chosen by historian and gardener William H. Prescott in the mid 19th century to honour Joel Roberts Poinsett who introduced the species to the USA in 1828.

Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia)

[UNAL]

Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia. http://www.biovirtual.unal.edu.co/nombrescomunes/

Vernacular
alfonsolópez, árbol de guerra, árbol de navidad, arbolito de navidad, bandera de guerra, bandera de Pizarro, barbegallo, blas del mar, cardenal, carnaval, cayeno, corbata de Gaitán, corbata de Uribe, corona de oliva, crestegallo, cuiche rojo, flor de navi

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Cultivada en Colombia; Alt. 470 - 2650 m.; Andes, Llanura del Caribe.
Morphology General Habit
Arbusto

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a popular garden plant in tropical and subtropical areas and is well-known as a pot-plant associated with winter festivities in temperate regions. The common English name 'poinsettia' was chosen by historian and gardener William H. Prescott in the mid 19th century to honour Joel Roberts Poinsett who introduced the species to the USA in 1828.

The genus Euphorbia was named in honour of Euphorbus, the Greek physician to King Juba II of Mauretania (a learned scholar of natural history) in the 1st century AD, who used the latex of Euphorbia species for medicinal purposes.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Euphorbia pulcherrima is native to southern Mexico and Guatemala.

It is also widely cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics, and escaped plants have become invasive weeds in parts of Africa, India and the Canary Islands.

Description

Overview: Small tree or shrub up to 4 m tall with few, stout, hairless branches.

Leaves: Relatively thin, usually 12-20 cm long with pointed tips. Borne on long, slender petioles (leaf stalks).

Flowers: Each tiny, petal-less female flower is surrounded by male flowers in a cup-shaped series of bracts known as a cyathium. Each cyathium bears a two-lipped, yellow gland. The green and yellow cyathia are in turn surrounded by a series of large, bright red bracts.

Fruits: Tri-lobed capsules, about 1.5 × 1.5-2.0 cm.

Seeds: Ovoid, more or less smooth, pale grey.

Uses

Poinsettia is widely cultivated as a garden ornamental in tropical and subtropical areas and grown commercially as a pot-plant, in particular for sale during the winter period. One of the top-selling potted flowering plants in the USA, poinsettias are the basis of a multi-million dollar Christmas industry. Poinsettias have long been associated with the Christian celebration of Christmas and have been used to decorate altars in Guatemala.

A range of cultivars are available, for example:

Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Barbara Ecke Supreme' - bright blood-red bracts E. pulcherrima 'Ecke's White' - cream-coloured bracts E. pulcherrima 'Rosea' - pale pink, darkly veined bracts

To produce compact, well-branched plants in commerce, rooted cuttings are treated with growth retardants. They are exposed to long periods of darkness to produce brightly coloured bracts (caused by production of anthocyanins).

Poinsettia latex has been used as a hair removal cream in Mexico and Guatemala. A red dye has been obtained from the bracts. In Guatemala, the latex has been used as a remedy for toothache and to cause vomiting. Poultices of leaves have been applied to treat aches and pains.

Cultivation

With a little care, it is possible to keep potted poinsettias for re-use the following winter. Once the festive season is over, watering should be reduced.

After the plant has dropped its leaves, the stems should be cut back by half to two thirds and the plant placed in a shaded position at 10-15°C. Watering should be kept to a minimum.

In early summer poinsettia should be re-potted and placed in bright, indirect light, where the temperature is about 18°C.

The red coloration of the bracts should appear after the plant is kept in total darkness for more than 12 hours per night.

This species at Kew

Pressed and dried specimens of Euphorbia pulcherrima are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

A specimen of poinsettia wood is held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection.

Kew's Illustration Collection includes the following paintings by artist Marianne North, which feature poinsettias: Flor de Pascua or Easter Flower at Morro Velho Brazil and The Taj Mahal at Agra North-West India .

Distribution
Mexico
Ecology
Deciduous tropical forest; hot, seasonally dry forest; moist or wet, wooded ravines.
Conservation
Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

Ingestion can lead to mild irritation of the mouth and stomach. Although many other species of Euphorbia are poisonous, poinsettia contains only low levels of chemical irritants.

[FSOM]

M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008] https://plants.jstor.org/collection/FLOS

Morphology General Habit
Robust ornamental shrub 2–4 m high
Morphology Branches
Branches stout, softly woody, with pronounced leaf-scars
Morphology Leaves
Leaves to 20 x 12 cm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Cymes with numerous brilliant red leaf-like bracts; cyathia 8 mm in diam.; gland with an elliptic opening 5 mm wide, yellow-rimmed.
Distribution
Cultivated at least in S2 (Mogadishu and Afgooye); native of Central America.
Vernacular
Poinsettia (English)

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental.

Native to:

Guatemala, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest

Introduced into:

Bangladesh, Brazil Northeast, Caroline Is., China South-Central, China Southeast, Comoros, Costa Rica, East Himalaya, El Salvador, Gambia, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, Honduras, India, Juan Fernández Is., Malawi, Nicaragua, Panamá, Society Is., Southwest Caribbean, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad-Tobago, Tubuai Is., West Himalaya

English
Poinsettia

Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Jan 1, 2008 Hinton, G.B. [11722], Guerrero K000476575
Harris [4498], Brazil K001210885
Hinton, G.B. [15799], Michoacán K000476574
Harris, L. [s.n.], Brazil K001210884
Langlassé, E. [848], Mexico K000478133
Menezes, E. [70], Brazil K001210886

First published in Allg. Gartenzeitung 2: 27 (1834)

Accepted by

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Balakrishnan, N.P. & Chakrabarty, T. (2007). The family Euphorbiaceae in India. A synopsis of its profile, taxonomy and bibliography: 1-500. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
  • Berendsohn, W.G., Gruber, A.K. & Monterrosa Salomón, J. (2009). Nova silva cusatlantica. Árboles nativos e introduciados de El Salvador. Parte 1: Angiospermae - Familias A a L Englera 29-1: 1-438.
  • Bhellum, B.L. (2012). Flora exotica of Jammu and Kashmir (List- I) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45.
  • Binojkumar, M.S. & Balakrishnan, N.P. (2010). The genus Euphorbia L. (Euphorbiaceae) in India. A taxonomic revision: 1-430. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
  • Chayamarit, K. & Van Welzen, P.C. (2005). Euphorbiaceae (Genera A-F) Flora of Thailand 8(1): 1-303. The Forest Herbarium, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
  • Choudhary, R.K., Srivastava, R.C., Das, A.K. & Lee, J. (2012). Floristic diversity assessment and vegetation analysis of Upper Siang district of eastern Himalaya in North East India Korean Journal of Plant Taxonomy 42: 222-246.
  • Danton, P. & Perrier, C. (2004). Liste de la Flore vasculaire de l'île Robinson Crusoe archipel Juan Fernández, Chili Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78.
  • Florence, J. (1997). Flore de la Polynésie Française 1: 1-393. ORSTOM éditions, Paris.
  • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012). Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies), ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Govaerts, R., Frodin, D.G. & Radcliffe-Smith, A. (2000). World Checklist and Bibliography of Euphorbiaceae (and Pandaceae) 1-4: 1-1622. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hammel, B.E., Grayum, M.H., Herrera & C. & Zamora, N. (eds.) (2010). Manual de plantas de Costa Rica volumen V. Dicotiledóneas (Clusiaceae-Gunneraceae) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 119: 1-970.
  • Jones, M. (1991). A checklist of Gambian plants: 1-33. Michael Jones, The Gambia College.
  • Lejoy, J., Ndjele, M.-B. & Geerinck, D. (2010). Catalogue-flore des plantes vasculaires des districts de Kisangani et de la Tshopo (RD Congo) Taxonomania. Revue de Taxonomie et de Nomenclature Botaniques 30: 1-307.
  • Lisowski, S. (2009). Flore (Angiospermes) de la République de Guinée Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517.
  • Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  • Sarder, N.U. & Hassan, M.A. (eds.) (2018). Vascular flora of Chittagong and the Chittagong Hill Tracts 3: 1-978. Bangladesh National Herbarium, Dhaka.
  • Stevens, W.D., Ulloa U., C., Pool, A. & Montiel, O.M. (2001). Flora de Nicaragua Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i-xlii, 1-2666.
  • Velayos, M., Barberá, P., Cabezas, F.J., de la Estrella, M., Fero, M. & Aedo, C. (2014). Checklist of the vascular plants of Annobón (Equatorial Guinea) Phytotaxa 171: 1-78.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.
  • Wu, Z.Y., Raven, P.H. & Hong, D.Y. (eds.) (2008). Flora of China 11: 1-622. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • Yang, Y., Riina, R., Morawetz, J.J., Haevermans, T., Aubriot, X. & Berry, P.E. (2012). Molecular phylogenetics and classification of Euphorbia subgenus Chamaesyce (Euphorbiaceae) Taxon 61: 764-789.

Literature

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • ColPlantA (2021). "ColPlantA. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.colplanta.org/"

Kew Species Profiles

  • Anderson, C. & Tischer, T. (1998). Poinsettias, the December Flower: Myth and Legend – History and Botanical Fact. Waters Edge Press, California.
  • Bennett, M. D. Price, H. J. & Johnston, J. S. (2008). Anthocyanin inhibits propidium iodide DNA fluorescence in Euphorbia pulcherrima: Implications for genome size variation and flow cytometry. Annals of Botany 101: 777–790.
  • Dauncey, E. A. (2010). Poisonous Plants: a Guide for Parents and Childcare Providers. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1997). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening, Volume 2 (D–K). The Stockton Press, New York.
  • Mabberley, D. J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: a Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses, 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Markey, S. (2002). For Poinsettia Growers, it’s Showtime. National Geographic News.
  • Parker, T. (2008). Trees of Guatemala. The Tree Press, Texas.
  • Radcliffe-Smith, A. (2012). Flora of Pakistan – Poinsettia pulcherrima.
  • Riina, R. & Berry, P. E. (Coordinators) (2012). Euphorbia Planetary Biodiversity Inventory Project.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Barthelat, F. (2019). La flore illustrée de Mayotte: 1-687. Biotope éditions.
  • Berendsohn, W.G., Gruber, A.K. & Monterrosa Salomón, J. (2009). Nova silva cusatlantica. Árboles nativos e introduciados de El Salvador. Parte 1: Angiospermae - Familias A a L Englera 29-1: 1-438.
  • Bhellum, B.L. (2012). Flora exotica of Jammu and Kashmir (List- I) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45.
  • Binojkumar, M.S. & Balakrishnan, N.P. (2010). The genus Euphorbia L. (Euphorbiaceae) in India. A taxonomic revision: 1-430. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
  • Chayamarit, K. & Van Welzen, P.C. (2005). Euphorbiaceae (Genera A-F) Flora of Thailand 8(1): 1-303. The Forest Herbarium, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
  • Danton, P. & Perrier, C. (2004). Liste de la Flore vasculaire de l'île Robinson Crusoe archipel Juan Fernández, Chili Journal de Botanique Société de Botanique de France 24: 67-78.
  • Gonzalez, F., Nelson Diaz, J. & Lowry, P. (1995). Flora Illustrada de San Andrés y Providencia: 1-281. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Colombia.
  • Hallé, N. (1983). Végétation de l'île Rurutu et additions au catalogue de la flore des îles Australes Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Section B, Adansonia 5(2): 141-150.
  • Hammel, B.E., Grayum, M.H., Herrera & C. & Zamora, N. (eds.) (2010). Manual de plantas de Costa Rica volumen V. Dicotiledóneas (Clusiaceae-Gunneraceae) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 119: 1-970.
  • Jones, M. (1991). A checklist of Gambian plants: 1-33. Michael Jones, The Gambia College.
  • Kitalong, A.H., DeMeo, R.A. & Holm, T. (2008). Native Trees Palau. A field guide: 1-236.
  • Lisowski, S. (2009). Flore (Angiospermes) de la République de Guinée Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517.
  • Sarder, N.U. & Hassan, M.A. (eds.) (2018). Vascular flora of Chittagong and the Chittagong Hill Tracts 3: 1-978. Bangladesh National Herbarium, Dhaka.
  • Velayos, M., Barberá, P., Cabezas, F.J., de la Estrella, M., Fero, M. & Aedo, C. (2014). Checklist of the vascular plants of Annobón (Equatorial Guinea) Phytotaxa 171: 1-78.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.
  • Wu, Z.Y., Raven, P.H. & Hong, D.Y. (eds.) (2008). Flora of China 11: 1-622. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.

Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 1, (1993) Author: by S. Carter [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Universidad Nacional de Colombia
ColPlantA database
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0