Painted Leaf - Wild Poinsettia - Mexican Fireplant
Euphorbia heterophylla
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge) Family

Plant is an upright or reclining perennial with milky latex sap that flows freely when the plant is cut or bruised. Its preferred habitat is open or wooded disturbed areas; usually in sandy soil or waste places. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

The leaves are of variable size and shape, but are generally narrow to egg-shaped or fiddle-like; several large marginal lobes end in sharp points or may be smooth on some plants; short leaf stalks. The color is bright green above and paler beneath with downy hairs; borne beneath the colorful bracts and flower clusters.

Flowers are about 1/4 inch wide, stalked and conspicuous; ball-like along the stem. Numerous male flowers are clustered around each female, appearing as one. Flowers occur in late summer.

Fruit is a capsule.

The related Christmas Poinsettia, E. pulcherrima, with large red, pink or white bracts is a hybrid of the wild variety. E. dentata occurs in the Midwest, and is know to be gradually spreading eastward.

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