Family • Euphorbiaceae - Euphorbia heterophylla Linn. - PAINTED EUPHORBIA - Bai bao xing xing cao

Scientific names

Euphorbia heterophylla (L.) Klotz. & Garcke
Euphorbia geniculata Ortega.
Euphorbia prunifolia Jacq.
Poinsettia geniculata (Ortega) Klotz & Garcke
Poinsettia heterophylla (L.) Klotz. & Garcke

Common names

Pintado (Tag.)
Mexican fireplant (Engl.)
Painted euphorbia (Engl.)
Painted leaf (Engl.)
Painted spurge (Engl.)
Spurge weed (Engl.)
Wild poinsettia (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC : Laban el-homara, Labeinah.
CHINESE: Bai bao xing xing cao.
FRENCH: Caca de poule
GERMAN: Poinsettien-Wolfsmilch.
JAPANESE: Shoujou sou, Kusa shoujou.
PORTUGUESE : Adeus-Brasil, Amendoim-bravo, Café-do-diabo, Flor-do-poeta, Leiteira.
SPANISH : Golondrina, Hierba de leche, Lechosa, Pascuilla.
TAMIL : Aṇdavāayu keeṟai, Siru pālpeṟukki.

Pintado is an erect, branched, smooth, half-woody herb or shrubby plant, 0.5 to 1.5 meters high. Leaves are alternate and extremely variable in shape, most often oblong-ovate, 3 to 10 centimeters long, the lower ones usually entire, the upper ones variously lobed, sinuate, dentate, or subentire, and the uppermost ones blotched with red at the base, similar to the bracts. Bracts are leaflike, much smaller than the leaves; the lower part is red and the upper, green. Involucres are clustered at the ends of the branches, about 3 millimeters long, green, with one sinus bearing an unappendaged gland. Capsules are nodding, about 5 millimeters wide.


– Introduced species.
– Ornamental cultivation in Manila and larger towns.
– Occasionally, astray in waste places.
– Native of tropical America.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) PHYTOCHEMICAL COMPOSITION, BIOACTIVITY AND WOUND HEALING POTENTIAL OF EUPHORBIAHETEROPHYLLA (Euphorbiaceae) LEAF EXTRACT / Omale James and Emmanuel .T / International Journal on Pharmaceutical and Biomedical ResearchVol. 1(1), 2010, 54-63

(2) Phytochemical screening and anti-inflammatory evaluation of methanolic and aqueous extracts of Euphorbia heterophylla Linn (Euphorbiaceae) / Falodun A, Okunrobo L O and Uzoamaka N / African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 5 (6), pp. 529-xxx, 15 March 2006

(3) Some Pharmacological Studies Of Aqueous Extract Of Leaves Of Euphorbia Heterophylla / PC Unekwe, PO Ughachukwu, JO Ogamba / Tropical Journal of Medical Research Vol. 10 (2) 2006: pp. 1-5

(4) Antimicrobial Activities of Some Euphorbiaceae Plants Used in the Traditional Medicine of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria / Uduak, A Essiett, Kola, K Ajibesin / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 654-64. 2010.

(5) Antinociceptive activity of Euphorbia heterophylla roots / I. Vamsidhara, A.Habeeb Mohammed, B. Nataraj et al / Fitoterapia, Vol 71, Issue 5, 1 Sept 2000, Pages 562-563 / doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00208-2 |

(6) Sorting Euphorbia names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(7) Euphorbia heterophylla (Leiteiro) / Flora de Santa Catarina

(8) Biochemical Assessment of the Effect of Aqueous Leaf Extract Of Euphorbia Heterophylla Linn on Hepatocytes of Rats / Apiamu Augustine, Evuen Uduenevwo Francis , Ajaja Uche Ivy / IOSR Journal Of Environmental Science, Toxicology And Food Technology, Volume 3, Issue 5 (Mar. – Apr. 2013), PP 37-41


– Leaves contain a red coloring matter, porcetin.
– Study yielded tannins, phlobatannin, terpenoids, cardiac glycosides, alkaloids and flavonoids.
– Study yielded terpenoids, quinones, alkaloids, sterol, coumarin, starch, and protein.
– Fresh leaves yielded carbohydrates, reducing sugars, saponins, steroids, terpenoids, tannins, flavonoids, and alkaloids.
– Plant is a high source of energy and water, moderate in protein and fiber contents. Nutrient composition on the basis of percentage magnitude is fat < ash < fiber < protein < moisture < carbohydrate.

Parts used
Roots, bark, leaves, stem.

– Used for constipation, bronchitis and asthma.
– In Kedah, decoction of roots and bark used for ague.
– In Yucatan, juice of stem used for erysipelas.
– In Nigeria, used for erysipelas, cough, bronchial paroxysmal asthma, hay fever and catarrh; latex used for insect bites.
– Also, used as purgative.
– Leaves and roots used for traumatic injury.
– Decoction of leaves used as lactogenic, drinking the decoction or massaging the breast with the poultice to induce milk flow. Also used for gonorrhea, and as laxative.

Study Findings
• Wound Healing: Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, cyanide, tannins, flavonoids and saponins. Study showed healing and sealing characteristics of Euphorbia heterophylla leaf gel in rats following topical administration.
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study of the aqueous extract of E heterophylla showed significant anti-inflammatory activity which was not dose-dependent.
• Superoxide Scavenging / Phytochemicals: Study isolated for the first time four chemical constituents – carboxylic acids, 4-hydroxycarboxylic acid, steroidal components – stigmasterol and stigmasterol glucoside. The isolated compounds revealed superoxide scavenging properties, most active with stigmasterol glucoside.
• Anticoagulant / Oxytocic / Laxative: Study of aqueous extract of leaves showed laxative effect as a result of increased peristaltic movements muscaric activity blocked by atropine oxytocic effect from binding to oxytocic receptors, and anticoagulant effect probably from the rich saponin content.
• Antimicrobial: Study of leaf extracts showed good antimicrobial activity against B subtilis, E coli, S aureus, P aeruginosa, C albicans, K pneumonia.
• Antinociceptive: Used as an analgesic in traditional medicine, a study of evaluating the hexane, chloroform, and ethyl acetate extracts of E. heterophylla showed significant analgesic effects at doses of 150-300 mg/kg i.p.
• Antimicrobial / Anticancer:: Study of ethanol extract showed significant antimicrobial activity esp against Proteus vulgaris and Staph aureus. An alcoholic extract showed significant in-vitro cytotoxic activity on EAC (Erhlich ascites carcinoma) cell lines.
• Toxicity Testing / Assessment on Hepatocytes of Rats: Study of aqueous extract showed no significant effect on biochemical parameters. Results showed no hepatotoxic potential while showing several bioactive compounds, and suggests further testing for medicinal and food purposes use for humans and grazing animals.