Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Euphorbia eriantha, Beetle Spurge

Beetle Spurge is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and has a modified flower called a cyathium. Flowers are green or greenish, either single or with few flowers clustered on branches. Euphorbia erianthaBeetle Spurge fruits are capsules, usually 3-chambered oblong and flattened top to bottom. Euphorbia erianthaBeetle Spurge plants have erect stems with ascending branching. Plants are hairy of glabrous depending on age and other conditions. Foliage may be dark in color and variable from greenish, reddish or purplish. Euphorbia erianthaBeetle Spurge plants grow up to 30 inches more or less in height. These are annual plants very closely related to the commercial Poinsettias. Euphorbia erianthaBeetle Spurge plants prefer elevations from 350 feet to 3,500 feet; they are typically lower than 3,000 feet in California. Plants bloom from February or March through as late as December depending on locality. Euphorbia eriantha

Scientific Name: Euphorbia eriantha
Common Name: Beetle Spurge

Also Called: Desert Poinsettia, Mexican Poinsettia, (Spanish: Golondrina)
Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge or Euphorbia Family

Synonyms: (Euphorbia exclusa, Poinsettia eriantha)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: Up to 30 inches more or less (20") (1 to 5.8 dm)

Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems erect, branching ascending; plants hairy or glabrous, older plants becoming glabrous; foliage dark in color from greenish, reddish or purplish.

Leaves: Green, leaves long (2.5 inches - 7cm) narrow and pointed; alternate or distal and sometimes opposite, leaves sub-sessile or petioled; leaf margins often entire or minutely toothed on the tips; leaves hairy or becoming glabrous with maturity.

Flower Color: Green, becoming reddish or purplish with age; flowers male and female on same plant; inflorescence a cyathium surrounded by crowded distal leaves, flowers solitary or with few flowers clustered on branch tips; fruits 3-lobed capsule, oblong and flattened top to bottom.

Flowering Season: February to October in Arizona; March to April in California; January to December in Texas.

Elevation: 350 to 3,500 feet (300-3,500 ft (91-1067m)) in Arizona, below 3,000 feet (below 1,000m) in California.

Habitat Preferences: Canyons, dry hot rocky slopes.

Recorded Range: Beetle Spurge is found in the southwestern United State in AZ, CA, NM and TX. It is also Native to the deserts of Baja California and northern and central Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Euphorbia eriantha.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are hundreds of species and even more accepted taxa overall for Euphorbia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 2,031 accepted species names and a further 1,322 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 21 species of genus Euphorbia, California has 25 species, Nevada has 6 species, New Mexico has 22 species, Texas has 31 species, Utah has 12 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: The genus Euphorbia is large with more than 2,000 species worldwide. In the southwest there are about 30 species or so. As with many species of Euphorbia, this species releases a milky sap of white latex which is toxic.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Euphorbia heterophylla, Mexican Fireplant, Euphorbia incisa, Mojave spurge and Euphorbia radians, Sun Spurge.

The genus Euphorbia is named for a Greek physician, Euphorbus of Juba II, King of Mauretania. The species epithet "eriantha" means woolly-flowered which is a reference to the plants overall foliage.

No information available.

Date Profile Completed: 06/18/2019
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
Kearney and Peebles 1969; Arizona Flora
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 06/19/2019)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 06/18/2019).
David J. Keil, Thomas J. Rosatti, Mark H. Mayfield & Daryl Koutnik 2013, Euphorbia eriantha, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 1,, accessed on June 17, 2019.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 06/17/2019). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Euphorbia eriantha', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 October 2018, 22:18 UTC, <> [accessed 17 June 2019]
Crumbacher, L., 2012