Plant Description

Euphorbia cyathophora

Euphorbia cyathophora

This very unusual annual is native to North and South America. It has tiny central clustered flowers with a surrounding vivid orange pattern on the green leaves, looking as if it has been applied using some sort of matt folk-art paint. The overall effect is like a miniature poinsettia, and the effect is present for a long time, over a number of months. The plants can grow up to 1.2 m tall and will grow basically anywhere. To reach their full potential, they need space around them. It is a gorgeous-looking plant but it self-seeds determinedly and it should not be grown in Queensland or northern NSW, where it is regarded as an environmental weed. It should never be planted anywhere it could escape into bushland areas. The plant also contains a milky sap so gloves should always be worn when handling it. Be very careful not to get any sap in your eyes as this can cause damage to them.

I started with one seedling and now pull out hundreds every year, just leaving a few to grow on. In recent times it has self-sown itself right next to a large poinsettia shrub and a brilliant orange coleus, where it looks rather alluring (as shown in photo at left). Euphorbia cyathophora is known by various common names, including fire-on-the-mountain, Mexican fire plant and painted leaf.


Euphorbia cyathophora
Out now in my Sydney garden.
Flowers from February to August.
Plant Family: Euphorbiaceae

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