Wild Poinsettia heterophylla or cyathophora
Wild Poinsettia is a Florida native plant that will add splashes of color to your garden without overpowering it. The dark green leaves can be oval or indented on the sides as though someone squeezed them. Some have a splash of red that looks painted on, thus the common name "Painted Leaf."
Red painted leaves of Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora
Black butterfly with yellowish white stripes, Zebra Heliconian, enjoys nectar from a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora, flower
This black butterfly with yellow stripes is a Zebra Longwing, the Florida state butterfly. Once in a while they stop to enjoy a meal on my Wild Poinsettia flowers. So did this dotted White Peacock butterfly:
Wild Poinsettia isn't as showy as the kind sold during the holidays, but it has a certain home grown charm. There's a spot in my yard where so many Australian Pine saplings grew that I'll never get the stumps low enough to be lawnmower safe. My Wild Poinsettia volunteered itself there, so I let it grow to cover the stumps. It stopped a bit above knee height, which was perfect to hide the few really big stumps. I was delighted to see butterflies and other small critters nectar on the plant, and when I found the Ello Sphinx Moth Caterpillars chewing it, well - that was the icing on my cake; I like caterpillars! Here's a peek at the Ello Sphinx Moth on my thumb.
White Peacock butterfly nectars on wild poinsettia
 Ello Sphinx Caterpillars come in both green and brown. They are odd looking things. Here's the chewing end:
Ello Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, Erinnyis ello, chewing Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora
A green Ello Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, Erinnyis ello, on Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora, one of its host plants
Ello Sphinx Moth
A brown Ello Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, Erinnyis ello, eating Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora, one of its host plants
If you don't look for the caterpillars, they won't bother you. They cling to the stem and look a lot like just another stem in the foliage. I captured several and raised them in a bug box inside so I could photograph their cocoon and the Ello Sphinx Moth they turn into. I handled them frequently, and they were quite tame and pleasant.
One of my favorite shots! The green Bee is FLYING from one Wild Poinsettia flower to another!
Green Bee on Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora

Most plants that provide food to butterflies also feed other little critters. Several Green Bees enjoyed my Poinsettia, as did other bees and wasps.

This wasp strongly resembles my Potter Wasp. The bee thereafter... I'll get back to you on that one.
Potter wasp on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
 on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
This bee looks like a honeybee to me:
Honeybee Necatrs on Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora
An orange paper wasp  with yellow stripes and another black bee or wasp with yellow stripes enjoy Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora
Paper wasps like the red one above enjoy eating caterpillars. I frequently see them searching my host plants, and sometimes catch them eating one of my butterfly caterpillars. That yellow and black wasp or bee in the corner of the photograph resembles one I saw my Brown Thrasher feed its chick.
Metallic Green Bee on Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora
Other curious critters have posed for me on my Wild Poinsettia plants too. This black and white bug is an M. Undatus Weevil. They seem to be chewing on everything that grows in my yard.
White and black bug, M. Undatus weevil, on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
The red-eyed bug trying to do a head stand is a syrphid fly. Yes, a fly. Somehow I missed these when I learned 'fly' as a child.
Pseudodoros clavatus, a Syrphid Fly, on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
I didn't know that hopping bugs came in such splendid colors either! This next tiny bug is a  Chariesterus antennator, a.k.a. Euphorbia bug.
Beautiful green cricket with striped antenna on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora leaf
Very little bug, I think a Chariesterus antennato, more brownish red than its more typical grey because it's soaked from the rain, on a Wild Poinsettia
I usually see these orange and black assassin bugs eating other bugs, but as you can see they visit flowers for food as well as to hunt prey. These next bugs, from left to right, are a Cassius Blue Butterfly, a Brown Stinkbug, and a Leaf-footed bug.
Orange and black assassin bug  on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
Cassius Blue Butterfly Nectars on Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia  heterophylla or cyathophora
Brown stinkbug  on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
Leaf-footed bug on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
So, to sum up the bugs, Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia heterophylla or cyathophora, is a butterfly nectar plant, a moth host plant, and a food source for important pollinators like honeybees.  It's also a pretty filler plant for any  garden that you want to add a touch of color to, and apparently drought resistant, because after ages of water restrictions here in Florida, mine is still alive and happy. Mine helps crowd out weeds I like less.
It's a keeper. This Polydamas Swallowtail Butterfly thinks so too. The pair of Gulf Fritillary butterflies just used it as a place to hang out while they were busy.
Black and yellow Polydamas Swallowtail Butterfly having a meal on a Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
Male and female Gulf Fritillary butterflies perched on a Wild Poinsettia leaf
Obviously this plant has a great deal of color variation, but many of the leaves have such a distinctive shape that it's easy to identify even when it's green.
Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora, dislaying its splashes of 'painted' red on its leaves
Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora, one plant all green, the other with a single splash of red on one leaf
Narrow leafed Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia cyathophora flower
Site Map:
Butterflies
Moths
Caterpillars
Diving, Wading & Wetland Birds
Warblers & Little Birds
More Birds
Snakes, Lizards, and Slithery Critters
Spiders
Squishy Bugs
Crunchy Bugs
More Creatures
Butterfly Nectar Plants
Butterfly & Moth Host Plants
Wetland plants
Vines
Lawn Weeds
Wildflowers
Other Plants & Fungi
Shrub, Bush & Tree Sized Plants
Paper Folding: Origami Bird, Egg, and Nest
Paper Quilling: Snowflake Ornaments
Cut Paper Snowflakes
Butterfly Garden Basics
My Email, Image Use Information, Credits & Disclaimer
Index of everything that didn't fit on one of the other main pages
Privacy Policy