Euphorbia cyathophora (Painted Leaf)

Plant Info
Also known as: Wild Poinsettia, Fire-on-the-mountain
Genus:Euphorbia
Family:Euphorbiaceae (Spurge)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; moist, gravelly soil; disturbed areas, roadsides, open woods, floodplains
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flowers are tiny and indistinct in clusters at the tips of branches. A small, green cup, 1/8 inch across, holds several (typically 3) male (staminate) flowers, each with a single stamen with two yellow anthers, surrounding  a single female (pistallate) flower with a six-parted pistil in the center. The round, three lobed ovary below the pistil develops quickly on a stalk that extends it out and down from the flower center. The rim of the cup has a single, thickened, oblong gland - green turning red. The leafy bracts surrounding the flower are typically bright red at the base end. The structure of this flower is called a cyathium and common to all the Euphorbias.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of violin-shaped leaves] Leaves mostly alternate, though a few upper leaves can be opposite, highly variable from linear to broadly oblong, lobed to fiddle-shaped, up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, the edges smooth to finely toothed, very short stalked near the flowers and longer stalked below. The upper surface is mostly hairless and the lower sparsely hairy. Stems are erect, unbranched to much branched, and hairless. Leaves and stems exude a milky sap when broken.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a deeply three lobed capsule, 1/5 inch wide, that develops rapidly from the center of the cyathium, typically before the surrounding stamens are fully developed. The fruit hangs down on a short stalk becoming erect at maturity, each lobe containing a single seed.

[photo of seed] Seeds are egg-shaped to oval to cylindric, 2 to 3 mm long, mottled gray, brown and black, the surface irregularly covered in shallow pits and small bumps, or, when cylindric, more evenly ridged in rows.

Notes:

In Minnesota where Euphorbia cyathophora (sometimes known as Poinsettia cyathophora) is at the northern fringe of its range, this is a small statured, marginal plant of sand prairie and bluffs along the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers in the southwest central and southeast counties, respectively. In the more southern and eastern parts of its North American range, it can inhabit moister and shadier habitats, getting much larger and showier. It is cultivated for its showy red bracts, similar to the Christmas poinsettia to which it is closely related. Introduced to many parts of the world it has become weedy in much of the South Pacific from Taiwan to Australia.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota, Hennepin and Renville counties, and in a private garden in Ramsey County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Larry - Golden Valley
on: 2013-09-01 12:56:42

I saw a group of these plants that initially looked like grass at the Rapids Lake Unit of MRVAC. They were in a partly sunny area of a dry gravel slope.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.