Euphorbia punicea (Jamaican Poincettia)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0130
  • Botanical Name: Euphorbia punicea
  • Common Name: Jamaican Poinsettia, Flame of Jamaica, Leather Leaf, Vegetable Leather
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
Euphorbia punicea 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: Caribbean 

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Treelet, Shrub
    • Texture: Medium
    • Form: Upright-broad
    • Height (on average, in landscape use): 10'-15'
    • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1
    • Growth Rate: Slow
    • Landscape Values: Accent, Color, Quick Effect,Sculptural Form, Specimen
    • Outstanding Quality: Foliage Color, Seasonal Color, Form/Silhouette, Foliage Characters, Bark
    Euphorbia punicea by St. John Plant Sciences at UH Manoa
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: 0.25", yellow, spurge-type flower, somewhat inconspicuous. Vivid red bracts around flowers.
    • Fruits:0.5"-0.75" balloon shaped. 
    Euphorbia punicea fruits
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Reddish midrib with medium green to blue-green leaves.. Mature: Bright medium green to blue-green.
    • Foliage Tip: Caudate 
    • Foliage Base:  Acute
    • Petiole: No petiole
    • Stipules: N/A
    • Margins: Smooth
    • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate (looks like a Rosette)
    • Leaf Shape: elliptic to ovate
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: Very noticeably leathery, waxy, glaucous, and somewhat thick. 
    • Leaf Special Notes: Handsome glaucous leaves with a rosette-like arrangement. The leaves alone could make this an intriguing specimen plant, while its structure, bark, bracts, and flowers provide additional allure. 

    Euphorbia punicea adaxial leaf surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Euphorbia punicea abaxial leaf surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston


    Euphorbia punicea leaves. Note the red midrib of new leaves and the dense nodes causing a rosette appearance.
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Smooth, silvery bark with noticeable leaf scars on younger regions.
    Euphorbia punicea bark
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
      • Soil Preferences:  Loam, Sand, Dry (Mesic), Dry (Xeric), Well-Drained.
      • Tolerances: Acidic, Alkaline, short periods of drought
      • Water Requirements: Drought tolerant, allow soil to dry out between watering. Will drop leaves if the dry period is extensive. Often regarded as a succulent, yet it endure drought as well as most plants called succulents.
      • Notes on Maintenance: Relatively slow growing plant that enjoys full sun and relatively dry conditions. As a spurge, an irritating sap is emitted. A comparable plant, regarding maintenance of course, is the plumeria. 
      • Propagation: Seed, but Cutting is the most popular method. 
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 10b
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 3, Low Risk



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