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Euphorbia pulcherrima


Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Common Name: Poinsettia, Easter Flower, Christmas Star, Christmas Flower, Painted Leaf, Lobster Plant, Mexican Flameleaf, Puring Bangala, Pohon Merah, Mexican Flame Tree

Every year around late November, the nights in Central America become longer, triggering the leafy bracts of the Poinsettia to turn a lovely shade of red. This change in colour helps the tiny, yellow flowers of the plant to attract nectar-seeking birds and insects for pollination. Always a popular Christmas plant decoration, they add a cheerful splash of colour to the home for the holidays!


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Growth Form Shrub


Native Distribution Mexico
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Temperate
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Perennial shrub that grows up to 3.3 m tall in the wild.
Foliage Dark green, thin leaves are broadly ovate with smooth edges (entire leaf margin) or pointed lobes and a long, thin tip.
Flowers The colorful, petal-like structures are bracts (modified leaves). Poinsettias typically have bright red bracts, but there are also cultivars with pink or white bracts. The true flowers are small, egg-shaped and occur at the base of the bracts. The flowers initially have red or green tips, but later releases yellow pollen.
Others - Plant Morphology There is a common misperception that the poinsettia bracts are toxic. They are, in fact, not toxic, but also not edible. They are said to have a very bitter taste.
Cultivation When the plant has colorful bracts, avoid fertilizing and water only when the soil becomes dry. The colorful bracts will eventually turn green. To get them to return to their colorful state, place the plant in complete darkness from 5PM to 8AM. In 2-3 months, the bracts should become colorful again. This species grows best in cool nighttime temperatures of about 13-16 degrees Celsius, while night temperatures of 21-24 degrees Celsius or more may prevent the bracts from becoming colorful again. When the bracts are green, the plant should be fertilized once a month with a soluble fertilizer for houseplants.
Etymology The specific epithet 'pulcherrima' means very beautiful. The common name Poinsettia is derived from Joel Robert Poinsett, American ambassador to Mexico who first introduced the plant to the US.
Ethnobotanical Uses Others: The Aztecs used the colorful bracts to make a reddish dye.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Urceolate / Urn-shaped

Image Repository



Master ID 712
Species ID 2007
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: 05 December 2021.