Family • Euphobiaceae - Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. - CHRISTMAS FLOWER - Yi pin hong

Scientific names

Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex. Klotzsch
Poinsettia pulcherrima (Willd. ex Klotzsch) Graham

Common names

Pascuas (Span., Tag.)
Easter flower  (Engl.)
Flame leaf (Engl.)
Lobster plant  (Engl.)
Painted leaf  (Engl.)
Mexican flame leaf  (Engl.)
Poinsettia (Engl.)
Christmas flower
Poinsettia (Engl.)
Christmas plant (Engl.)
Yi pin hong (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Xing xing mu, Lao lai jiao.
DANISH: Julestjerne
DUTCH: Poinsettia.
FRENCH: Euphorbe écarlate.
GERMAN: Weihnachtsstern .
JAPANESE: Poinsechia, Shoujouboku.
LITHUANIAN: Puošniausioji karpažolė.
MALAY : Dènok, Godong ratjoon, Kastooba, Racunan, Ratjoonan.
PORTUGUESE : Flor-de-papagaio, Folha-de-sangue, Papagaio, Poinsétia.
RUSSIAN: Molochai krasivyeishij, Puansettiia.
SPANISH: Flor de noche buena, Flor de pascua, Rosas de pascua, Flor de Santa Catarina, Pascuero.
SWEDISH: Julstjärna.
TAMIL: Ilai paddi, Mayil kaḷḷi, Poo kaḷḷi.
THAI: Cheu eun, Poh pan, Song ra-doo.

Pascuas is an erect, sparingly, and laxly branched shrub, 2 to 4 meters high. Leaves are elliptic to oblong-elliptic or the upper ones lanceolate, 10 to 18 centimeters, the lower ones entirely green, obscurely repand or slightly lobed, long-petioled, slightly hairy beneath, the upper ones, at the time of flowering, uniformly bright-red. Inflorescence is terminal. Involucres are ovoid, about 1 centimeter long, the margins toothed, each with one or two large, yellow glands. Flowers are crowded.


– Cultivated as ornamental garden plant.
– A traditional Christmas plant.
– Probably introduced about 1870.
– Native of Mexico.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Cytotoxic triterpenoids from the leaves of Euphorbia pulcherrima.

Planta Med 1996 Aug;62(4):322-5

(2) Chemical study of the latex, stems, bracts, and flowers of Christmas flower (Euphorbia pulcherrima) / Xorge Dominguez et al / Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Volume 56 Issue 9, Pages 1184 – 1185 /DOI 10.1002/jps.2600560931

(3) 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.

(4) Experimental study of neuropharmacological profile of Euphorbia pulcherrima in mice and rats / Kundan Kr Singh, Gajendra P Rauniar, and Himal Sangraula / J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2012 Sep-Dec; 3(3): 311–319.
doi: 10.4103/0976-3147.102612

(5) Phytochemical and pharmacological evaluation of aerial parts of Euphorbia pulcherrima L / Abdur Rauf and Naveed Muhammad / Wudpecker Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Vol. 2(2), pp. 015 – 020, April 2013

(6) Experimental Study of Anticonvulsive Effects of Euphorbia Pulcherrima in Mice / Dr. Kundan K Singh , Prof. Gajendra P Rauniar , Prof. Himal Sangraula / WebmedCentral PHARMACOLOGY 2011;2(12):WMC002572 /
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2011.002572

(7) Preliminary Investigation of Bioactive Compounds and Bioautographic Studies of Whole Plant Extract of Euphorbia pulcherrima on Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa / H. B. Sharif, M. D. Mukhtar, Y. Mustapha, and A. O. Lawal / Advances in Pharmaceutics
Volume 2015 (2015) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/485469

(8) The Myth of the Poisonous Poinsettia / Hoax Forum

(9) Are Poinsettia Plants Poisonous? Fact or Fiction? / Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD / MedicineNet

– Triterpenes in the latex of E pulcherrima.
– Bracts yield a resin, a yellow and red coloring-matter, essential oil, tartaric acid, gallic acid, gum, glucose, sucrose, starch, and salts.
– Bark yields a red coloring principle; bracts yield a scarlet dye.
– Leaf yields alkaloids, saponins, sulfur, fat, amilodextrin, and formic acid.

– Emetic, galactagogue, and cathartic.
– Latex considered caustic and poisonous.

Parts utilized:
Leaves and flowers.

– Leaves applied as poultice for erysipelas and a variety of cutaneous problems.
– Latex is poisonous and causes irritation in wounds.
– Latex is very caustic and dangerous to the eyes.
– Infusion of flowers used as galactagogue.
– Plants used as emetic and cathartic.
– In Mexico, decoction of bracts taken by nursing women to increase the flow of milk, although the practice is considered dangerous by some.
– Infusion of flowers prescribed as galatagogue.
– Plant used as emeto-cathartic.
– In Indonesia, the racunan plant (E. pulcherrima) is used as emetic, emmenagogue, and galactagogue, for treating tuberculosis, skin infections, and fractures.


• Contact dermatitis: Reports of contact dermatitis associated with EP simulating a phototoxic reaction.Contact Dermatitis 1998 Feb;38:113-4 Contact Dermatitis 1985 May;12:285-6
• Accidental ingestion of the the plant can cause stomach irritation, discomfort, nausea and vomiting. The latex can cause skin irritation.
• Is it poisonous? The Myth of the Poisonous Poinsettia—The weblog is a counterpoint that the deadly poison of the poinsettia is entirely a myth. It could be guilt by association with two other popular Christmas plants—holly and mistletoe—which are genuinely poisonous. While the genus (Euphorbia) to which poinsettia belongs contain some poisonous plants, poinsettia itself is not toxic.

Study Findings
• Cytotoxicity: Two cytotoxic terpenoids isolated from E pulcherrima. Cytotoxicity evaluation was performed using Ehrlich ascites tumor cells. Although no cytotoxic activity was observed, both isolated triterpenes exhibited cell inactivating effects. Crude alcoholic extracts and isolated fractions of E. milli and E. pulcherrima exhibited promising cytotoxic activity against Artemis salina shrimp larvae attributed to the presence of polar compounds.
• Antibacterial: In a study of fruits, leaves, stems and flowers that included E. pulcherrima, the extracts exhibited moderate antibacterial effects on Micrococcus pyogenes, E coli and P aeruginosa.
• Phytochemicals: A study of the petroleum ether extract of the latex, bracts and flowers of E pulcherrima yielded germanical, ß-amyrin and pseudotaraxasterol; from the latex, a new sterol, pulcherrol; from the stems, an octaeicosanol and ß-sitosterol.
• Bactericide / Chitosan : A chitosan solution markedly inhibited the growth of Xanthomonas sp.pathogenic to E. pulcherrima from different origins. Results showed potential bactericide against plant pathogenic bacteria.
• Anticonvulsant / Antinociceptive: Study evaluated the central nervous system effects of Euphorbia pulcherrima in mice and rats. Results showed the crude dried extracts showed anticonvulsant and antinociceptive properties with no effect on motor coordination and anxiety.
• Antibacterial / Antinociceptive: Study of racunan leaf extract showed it can be used as an antibacterial against Escherichia coli.
• Antibacterial / Free Radical Scavenging / Analgesic: Study of solvent fractions yielded alkaloids, terpenoids, saponins, glycosides, reducing sugar, and amino acid. An EA fraction and methanol extract exhibited significant free radical scavenging activity and moderate antibacterial activity against K. pneumonia, S. epidermis, B stearothermophilus and S typhimurium. A crude extract exhibited significant phytotoxic effect and a crude methanolic extract showed significant analgesic effect.
• Anticonvulsant : Study evaluated the anticonvulsive effects of E. pulcherrima of various extracts using various convulsive experimental models in mice. Results showed EP crude dried extract showed anticonvulsant properties in Maximal Electroshock Seizure test model and Pentylenetetrazole induced seizure models.
• Antibacterial / Bioactive Compounds: Study showed an ethyl acetate fraction of methanol extract of whole plant yielded phytochemicals (terpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, saponin, and steroids) which showed remarkable activities against E. coli, S. aureus, S. typhi and P. aeruginosa.

Ornamental cultivation.