return to: checklist; keys, key 3; family Euphorbiaceae subfamily Euphorbioideae
Weedy herb with milky white latex; leaves opposite towards the base of the stem, alternate towards the apex, simple, variable in shape, linear lanceolate to elliptic, lobed or unlobed, base generally cuneate, margins entire or toothed, apex +/- acute, at least some leaves subtending the reproductive structures bear a red, pink or white spot or zone near their base; flowers minute, highly reduced, crowded into cup-like cyathia crowdes at the stem apex; cyathium green, with a single prominent bilabiate, yellow gland; depending on stage of maturity, jointed stamens, naked 3-carpellate ovaries, or explosively dehiscent capsules emerge from the apex of the cyathium.
This is a relative of the familiar Christmas poinsettia. Standley (1930) reports that the latex is used to treat erysipelas (skin infections often caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes. Listed, as Euphorbia heterophylla var rubra, as an important source of pollen and/or nectar for bees (Souza Novello 1981).