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
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
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
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
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
! Here's a peek at the
Ello Sphinx Moth
on my thumb.
Ello Sphinx Caterpillars come in
both green and brown. They are odd looking things. Here's the chewing
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.
Most plants that provide food to butterflies
also feed other little critters. Several
Green Bees enjoyed my Poinsettia, as
did other bees and
like the red one above enjoy eating caterpillars. I
frequently see them searching my host plants
and sometimes catch them eating one of my
. That yellow and black wasp or bee in the
corner of the photograph resembles one I saw my
Brown Thrasher feed its chick
Other curious critters
have posed for me on my Wild Poinsettia
too. This black and white bug is an M.
. They seem to be chewing on everything that grows in
The red-eyed bug trying to do a head stand is a
. Yes, a fly.
Somehow I missed these when I learned 'fly
' as a child.
I didn't know that hopping bugs
came in such splendid colors either! This next tiny bug is a
a.k.a. Euphorbia bug
I usually see these orange and black assassin 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
Brown Stinkbug, and a Leaf-footed bug
So, to sum up the bugs, Wild Poinsettia, Euphorbia heterophylla or cyathophora, is a
butterfly nectar plant
, a moth
, 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
It's a keeper. This Polydamas Swallowtail Butterfly
thinks so too. The pair of Gulf
just used it as a place to hang out while
they were busy.
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.