Alternate name: Wild Poinsettia, Painted-leaf
Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge view all from this family
Description Habit: native annual or perennial herb; erect, hollow stems; milky sap, poisonous if ingested.
Height: 6-40 in (15-100 m).
Leaf: alternate, variable, linear to ovate to lyrate, simple or lobed or toothed, to 6 in (15 cm) long; at top, opposite, with yellow to pinkish patch at base.
Flower: tiny green balls (male flowers) and 3-lobed green ovary (female flower); in terminal cluster, flanked by leaves with colored bases resembling petals.
Fruit: small smooth capsule.
Warning Milky sap can be poisonous if ingested; will also irritate eyes, mouth, and mucous membranes. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Flower July to October.
Habitat Moist sites with alkaline soil; alluvial soil, open woodlands, stream banks, old fields, waste areas, railways, roadsides, disturbed areas.
Range Native to the continental U.S., now naturalized in Hawaii and from California east to Utah and Texas, north to South Dakota, southeast to Wisconsin, Ohio and Maryland, south to Florida; not reported in Nevada, Colorado, or West Virginia.
Discussion Also called dwarf poinsettia, wild poinsettia, summer poinsettia, painted leaf poinsettia, poinsettia, painted leaf spurge. Considered weedy or invasive in some areas.