Euphorbia heterophylla L.

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Euphorbia heterophylla

Photo: Bart Wursten
Twentydales Ext, Epworth, Harare

Euphorbia heterophylla

Photo: Bart Wursten
La Rochelle, kopje behind hotel

Euphorbia heterophylla

Photo: Petra Ballings
Shareragh rd, Mandara, Harare

Euphorbia heterophylla

Photo: Bart Wursten
Along path to White Rhino Cave, Matobo National Park.

Euphorbia heterophylla

Photo: Mark Hyde
New Years Gift Estate, Chipinge district

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Euphorbia geniculata Ortega
Poinsettia heterophylla (L.) Klotzsch & Garcke
Common names: Annual wild poinsettia (English) Mexican fire plant (English) Painted Euphorbia (English)
Frequency: Common
Status: Introduced
Erect annual, up to c. 1 m high, often reddish tinged; stems hollow. Leaves ovate,up to 12 cm long, hairless or sparsely hairy around the edges above, hairy especially on the midrib and veins beneath, mostly when young; margin with minute gland-tipped teeth or occasionally more coarsely toothed; petiole c.2 cm long; stipules modified as conspicuous purplish glands. Flowers in terminal and axillary heads. Capsules deeply 3-lobed, c. 5.5mm wide, exserted on a reflexed pedicel up to 6 mm long
  • Carter & Leach in FZ 9(5): 363 remark that in Africa this species shows very little of the irregularity in leaf shape which gives this species its name.
  • This species, together with E. pulcherrima and E. cyathophora belong to section Poinsettia
  • The leaves of this species are often attacked by an orange rust Melampsora euphorbiae (Schub.) Cast.
Derivation of specific name: heterophylla: with leaves of different shapes
Habitat: Mostly in disturbed places
Altitude range: (metres) Up to 1630 m
Flowering time:Nov - Mar
Worldwide distribution: Pantropical weed, originating from Central America.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,W,C,E,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Monday 13 February 2017

Carter, S. & Leach, L.C. (2001). Euphorbiaceae: subfamily Euphorbioideae: tribe Euphorbieae Flora Zambesiaca 9(5) Pages 361 - 363. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 17.

Drummond, R.B. (1984). Arable Weeds of Zimbabwe Agricultural Research Trust of Zimbabwe, Harare Pages 48 - 49. (Includes a picture).

Kirby, G. (2013). Wild Flowers of Southeast Botswana Struik Nature, Cape Town South Africa Page 351. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 41.

Pickering, H. & Roe, E. (2009). Wild Flowers of the Victoria Falls Area Helen Pickering, London Page 62. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 57.

Other sources of information about Euphorbia heterophylla:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Euphorbia heterophylla
Flora of Caprivi: Euphorbia heterophylla
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Euphorbia heterophylla
Flora of Malawi: Euphorbia heterophylla
Flora of Mozambique: Euphorbia heterophylla
Flora of Zambia: Euphorbia heterophylla

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Euphorbia heterophylla
African Plant Database: Euphorbia heterophylla
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Euphorbia heterophylla
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Euphorbia heterophylla
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Euphorbia heterophylla
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Euphorbia heterophylla
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Euphorbia heterophylla
JSTOR Plant Science: Euphorbia heterophylla
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Euphorbia heterophylla
Plants of the World Online: Euphorbia heterophylla
Tropicos: Euphorbia heterophylla
Wikipedia: Euphorbia heterophylla

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Euphorbia heterophylla., retrieved 2 December 2023

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