Euphorbia heterophylla (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Euphorbia heterophylla L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 453 (1753).


Euphorbia prunifolia Jacq. (1798), Poinsettia geniculata (Ort.) Klotzsch & Garcke ex Klotzsch (1859), Poinsettia heterophylla (L.) Klotzsch & Garcke ex Klotzsch (1859), Euphorbia taiwaniana Ying (1987).

Vernacular names

  • Japanese poinsettia, Mexican fireweed, mole plant (En)
  • Malaysia: pekapar (Peninsular)
  • Thailand: yaa yaang (general), bai taang dok, luuk khoei taai mae yai tham sop (Bangkok)
  • Vietnam: cỏ mủ.


Native to Central and South America, but nowadays naturalized throughout the tropics. Within Malesia not yet reported from the Philippines.


E. heterophylla may cause poisoning in livestock. The young leaves are sometimes eaten as a vegetable, but may act as a laxative.


An annual or facultative perennial, unarmed herb up to 110(-200) cm tall; leaves alternate, lanceolate or ovate to distinctly fiddle-shaped, 3-14 cm × 0.5-7 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex obtuse to slightly acuminate, margin entire to serrulate, dull green, glabrous to sparsely pilose above, pilose below, petiole up to 3(-6) cm long, pilose; inflorescence composed of densely clustered cyathia in axillary or terminal cymes, bracts similar to the leaves but progressively smaller and paler green, sometimes purple spotted; cyathia with 1(-2) peltate, funnel-shaped glands with a circular, 0.5-1.2 mm wide opening, anthers yellow; capsule deeply 3-lobed, 4-5.5 mm × 3.5-4.5 mm, smooth, puberulent; seeds truncate-ovoid, bluntly tuberculate. E. heterophylla is a noxious weed of e.g. cocoa, tea, rice and sugar cane, also found in gardens and waste places, and on alluvial soils and sandy beaches, up to 3000 m altitude.

Selected sources

97, 202, 217, 372, 638, 864, 865, 1182, 1183, 1186, 1380, 1386, 1425, 1582.


Nguyen Nghia Thin & M.S.M. Sosef