The jamaican poinsettia is a small tree or shrub which is closely related to and resembles the very familiar christmas flower. As a tree, jamaican poinsettia grows to a height of 10-15 feet, branching out into a rounded, sparse crown. The stems are rubbery, semi-succulent, and green to pale brown, bearing prominent marks of fallen leaves. The stems exude a milky latex if injured, which is a skin irritant, but also a traditional medicine to treat ringworm. Leaves are clustered at the stem ends and are oblong, leathery, dark green, normally evergreen (drought or cool weather may cause leaf fall). The showy flowers, actually red (but variable in color) bracts and small yellow flowers, are framed by the shiny green longer leaves giving a striking appearance. Flowers attract butterflies. Small green fruits pop open when ripe. This plant can be propagated by cuttings. Jamaican poinsettias can be grown in poor soils, providing they are well-drained, and are excellent as a garden accent or specimen plant, and as a potted plant in or outdoors. As a shrub, it can also be grown as a barrier plant.
Photo credit for Closeup: Rebecca Bullene