Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Argentina (South America)
Brazil (South America)
Canada (North America)
Chile (South America)
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
French Guiana (South America)
Guyana (South America)
Paraguay (South America)
Suriname (South America)
Uruguay (South America)
United States (North America)
Venezuela (South America)
Colombia (South America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Forzza, R. C. & et al. 2010. 2010 Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2010/. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100002289
- Molina Rosito, A. 1975. Enumeración de las plantas de Honduras. Ceiba 19(1): 1–118. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/866
- Martínez Gordillo, M., J. J. Ramírez, R. C. Durán, E. J. Arriaga, R. García, A. Cervantes & R. M. Hernández. 2002. Los géneros de la familia Euphorbiaceae en México. Anales Inst. Biol. Univ. Nac. Autón. México, Bot. 73(2): 155–281. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1021727
- González Ramírez, J. 2010. Euphorbiaceae. En: Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica. Vol. 5. B.E. Hammel, M.H. Grayum, C. Herrera & N. Zamora (eds.). Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 119: 290–394. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100003920
- Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., R. D. C. Ortiz, R. Callejas Posada & M. Merello. 2011. Flora de Antioquia. Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares, vol. 2. Listado de las Plantas Vasculares del Departamento de Antioquia. Pp. 1-939. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100008595
- USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100004579
larva of Aphthona atrocaerulea grazes on leaf of Euphorbia
Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Aphthona euphorbiae grazes on leaf of Euphorbia
Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Aphthona melancholica grazes on leaf of Euphorbia
Foodplant / gall
larva of Bayeria capitigena causes gall of shoot tip of Euphorbia
Other: sole host/prey
Foodplant / open feeder
adult of Cryptocephalus moraei grazes on live flower of Euphorbia
Remarks: season: 5-9
Foodplant / sap sucker
nymph of Dicranocephalus agilis sucks sap of Euphorbia
Foodplant / parasite
sporangium of Peronospora euphorbiae parasitises live Euphorbia
Foodplant / spot causer
Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. poinsettiicola causes spots on live leaf of Euphorbia
Evolution and Systematics
The stems of euphorbias protect from heat and drought via their hard waxy surface.
"On the ground around them grow numerous fat, spiny leafless plants that any non-botanist could be forgiven for calling -- without hesitation and even perhaps a certain amount of pride in his expertise -- cacti. Only if they are in flower might you suspect that they are not. Then a botanist would notice that the numbers of petals and anthers are quite different from those of cacti. These are euphorbias, members of one of the largest of all families of flowering plants with over seven thousand species. In Europe, its common representatives are dog's mercury and spurge. In South America, euphorbias grow into trees and shrubs, among them the rubber tree and the manioc plant. In African forests, its members include the castor oil bush. And in African deserts they become cacti look-alikes…The cactus family is, in fact, exclusively American, with hundreds of different species growing in deserts from Canada to Chile. The reason that members of these two families resemble one another so closely is that similar conditions of heat and drought have stimulated the same physical response. Both abandon their leaves at an early stage, since these inevitably lose a great deal of water, and both carry out their photosynthesis under the hard waxy surface of their stems which are green with chlorophyll. Both store water in a bloated pillar-like trunk. And both defend that water from robbers by armouring their trunks with sharp spines." (Attenborough 1995:272-275)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||637||Public Records:||376|
|Specimens with Sequences:||556||Public Species:||70|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||550||Public BINs:||0|
|Species With Barcodes:||121|
Locations of barcode samples
Euphorbia subg. Poinsettia
This taxon was first published at genus rank under the name Poinsettia by Robert Graham in 1836. It was demoted to a section of Euphorbia as E. sect. Poinsettia by Henri Ernest Baillon in 1858, but promoted to subgenus rank by Homer Doliver House in 1924. Recent studies have confirmed its monophyly.
Its many species include:
- E. pulcherrima -- (Poinsettia)
- E. cyathophora -- (Summer Poinsettia, Wild Poinsettia, Painted Leaf Poinsettia)
- E. dentata -- (Green Poinsettia)
- E. heterophylla -- (Desert Poinsettia, Wild Poinsettia)
- E. pinetorum -- (Everglades Poinsettia)
The common name "Wild Poinsettia" is sometimes applied to two of these species.
History & Legends of the Poinsettia
The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitl." During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.
Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.
In the 17th century, Juan Balme, a botanist, noted the poinsettia plant in his writings. The botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, originated as a annotation of a herbarium specimen by the German botanist, Carl Ludwig Willdenow and was first published by Johann Friedrich Klotzsch in 1834.
Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico being appointed by President John Quincy Adams in the 1820s. At the time of his appointment, Mexico was involved in a civil war. Because of his interest in botany he introduced the American elm into Mexico. During his stay in Mexico he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. Even though Poinsett had an outstanding career as a United States Congressman and as an ambassador he will always be remembered for introducing the poinsettia into the United States.
A nurseryman from Pennsylvania, John Bartram is credited as being the first person to sell poinsettias under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima
In the early 1900s the Ecke family of southern California grew poinsettias outdoors for use as landscape plants and as a cut flower. Eventually the family grew poinsettias in greenhouses and today is recognized as the leading producer of poinsettias in the United States.
Caring for the Poinsettia
The length of time your poinsettia will give you pleasure in your home is dependent on (1) the maturity of the plant, (2) when you buy it, and (3) how you treat the plant. With care, poinsettias should retain their beauty for weeks and some varieties will stay attractive for months.
After you have made your poinsettia selection, make sure it is wrapped properly because exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can damage the bracts and leaves.
Unwrap your poinsettia carefully and place in indirect light. Six hours of light daily is ideal. Keep the plant from touching cold windows.
Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers or open doors and windows. Ideally poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70°F and night time temperatures around 55°F. High temperatures will shorten the plant’s life. Move the plant to a cooler room at night, if possible. Check the soil daily. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Allow water to drain into the saucer and discard excess water. Wilted plants will tend to drop bracts sooner.
Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month. Do not fertilize when it is in bloom.
With good care, a poinsettia will last 6–8 weeks in your home.
- R. Graham. Description of several new or rare plants... Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 20(2): 412–413. 1836
- Hibbert & Buist. 1839 edition. American Flower Garden Directory. p. 191
- Park, Ki-Ryong; Jansen, Robert K. (2007). "A phylogeny of Euphorbieae subtribe Euphorbiinae". Journal of Plant Biology 50 (6): 644–49. doi:10.1007/BF03030608.
- zweier neuen Euphorbien aus Mexico. Allgemeine Gartenzeitung 2(4): 27–28. 1834
Poinsettia History & Legends & Care - University of Illinois Extension Poinsettia Pages
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