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Euphorbia cotinifolia (Caribbean Copper Plant)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia cotinifolia L.

Common Names

Caribbean Copper Plant, Caribbean Copper Bush, Smoketree Spurge, Tropical Smoke Bush, Mexican Shrubby Spurge, Red Spurge


Aklema cotinifolia, Alectoroctonum cotinifolium, Euphorbia scotana, Tithymalus cotinifolius

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


Euphorbia cotinifolia is a tropical shrub usually under 10 feet (3 m) tall but can grow up to 18 feet (5.4 m) tall and be trained as a small tree. The upright gray purplish stems hold on long petioles the thin, slightly fleshy and ovate shaped leaves that are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide and have a beautiful coppery reddish purple color. Flowering occurs in late spring to mid summer and while the tiny flowers at branch tips are not showy, the small cream to pale yellow bracts stand out attractively out against the red foliage.


USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Euphorbias are very easy to care for. They require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. In fact, more die from too much care and watering than from neglect. Euphorbias need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight. They are not particular about soil pH, but they cannot tolerant wet soil. Unlike most succulents, Euphorbia does not handle long periods of drought well. It may need weekly watering during the summer. Water whenever the soil is dry several inches below the surface. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot. Add some organic matter or fertilizer to the planting hole. If you are growing them in containers or your soil is poor, feed with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.

Euphorbia can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). It is usually propagated by cuttings. This can be tricky, because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. They tend to grow problem free, but there are a few pests and diseases to be alert for… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia


Native to Mexico and South America.


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