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Euphorbia cotinifolia


Euphorbia cotinifolia

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Acalypha cotinoides, Euphorbia scotana, Aklema cotinifolia, Acalypha scotanum, Acalypha cotinifolia, Acalypha caracassanum, Aklema scotana, Euphorbia cotinoides, Tithymalus cotinifolius
Common Name: Caribbean Copper Plant, Red Spurge, Hierba mala, 紫锦木, 非洲红, 非洲黑美人, 俏黄栌


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 6 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 2.4 m


Native Distribution Mexico, Caribbean, South America
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form An upright large shrub or small multi-stemmed tree, with stunning deep burgundy foliage.
Foliage Leaves simple, pinnately-veined, bright red venation distinct, margin entire, leaf blade ovate-rounded, apex acute, base obtuse-rounded, 3-whorled, 4 to 6 cm long, 3 to 4 cm wide, deep burgundy (with young leaves having brighter tones of red); petiole 3 to 6 cm long; stipules up to 0.3 mm long.
Others - Plant Morphology Stem: Stems glabrous, deep burgundy, multi-branched. Flower: Cyathia (inflorescences consisting of cuplike clusters of bracts enclosing unisexual flowers) numerous, peduncle up to 2 cm long; bracts broadly cup-shaped, highly inconspicuous, lobes 4 to 6, triangular, pilose on margin; male flowers numerous, bracts linear; female flowers protruding from enveloping bracts. Fruit: Fruit capsules 3-angular-ovoid, smooth, sparsely pubescent to glabrous, up to 4mm in diameter; Seeds subglobose, brown, up to 3mm in diameter, foveolate (having tiny depressions on the surface).
Cultivation Performs best with adequate moisture and well-drained soils. While plant is quite drought tolerant, it sheds all of its leaves at the expense of this ability. Propagate by stem cuttings or division. Caution: Leaves can trigger an overall rash in ‘sensitive’ individuals upon physical contact. The sticky white sap any cut surface is highly irritating and can induce intense inflammation and blistering on skin contact, and at least temporary blindness in the eye. Wear appropriate equipment when handling the plant if need be.
Etymology The genus epithet ‘Euphorbia’ is derived from 'Euphorbus', the Greek physician to Juba II, King of Mauretania. Juba II was treated by a plant (probably the Resin Spurge, Euphorbia resinifera) with powerful medicinal properties, of which he named after his Greek physician 'Euphorbus'. The species epithet ‘cotinifolia’ is in reference to its leaves, resembling like the ones of Cotinus (Smokebush). Many leafy species of Euphorbia are commonly called ‘spurges’, in this case red spurge, which means ‘purge’ or ‘cleanse’ from the Old French word espurgier (Latin expurgāre), with the tradition that the sap of many herbaceous 'Euphorbia' species have been used as a purgative or laxative.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Container Planting, General, Flowerbed / Border, Hedge / Screening, Focal Plant
Usage Hazard - Cons Irritant - Sap, Toxic Upon Ingestion

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Red
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Whorled
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Yellow / Golden
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Image Repository



Master ID 706
Species ID 2001
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 15 February 2022.