Euphorbia pulcherrima (EUPHORBIACEAE) Poinsettia

Weeds to Whack

A tall, rangy shrub to 3 m, native to the tropical areas of Central America and Mexico. A popular garden plant, Poinsettia is becoming naturalised along Enoggera waterways. Large, dark green, oval leaves are toothed on the sides and pointed at the tips. They emerge from smooth green erect stems. Flowers are borne at the stem tips in winter. The actual flowers are quite small. They are the yellow structures at the centre of the brilliantly coloured bracts or modified leaves. Pulcherrima means most beautiful. Quite dense stands have been recorded on Enoggera Creek.

Photo: Matt Tomkins


The Poinsettia was named after Joel Poinsett who introduced the plant to the USA in the early 1800s. Euphorbia the genus has around 2000 species from low-growing garden weeds called spurges to giant, cactus-like succulents. Many members of the Euphorbia family, including the genus Euphorbia, contain a poisonous milky-latex sap. The toxin is a mixture of diterpene esters, and contact with the skin may cause inflammation and a blistering rash. Euphorbia the genus was named after Euphorbus, physician to Juba, king of Mauritania. It has been Brisbane’s floral emblem since 1925.
Photo: Robert Whyte