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Products > Euphorbia cotinifolia
Euphorbia cotinifolia - Caribbean Copper Plant
Image of Euphorbia cotinifolia
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurges)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [E. sanguinea, Hort.]
Height: 10-16 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Euphorbia cotinifolia (Caribbean Copper Plant) - In our climate this is a deciduous tropical shrub that is often 8 to 10 feet tall but can grow upwards to 18 feet 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 about 3 inches wide by 4 inches long 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. Plant in a well-drained soil in bright shade to full coastal sun with moderate water. Really best along our southern California coast as inland sun can burn foliage and when shaded the foliage is greener. The coastal areas are also less prone to hard frost which can be very damaging to this plant and though main stems are hardy to about 28F, it drops some foliage once temperatures drop below 40F and completely deciduous if nighttime lows reach down to the mid 30sF and then stems remain leafless for several months or more. Euphorbia cotinifolia is native from Mexico south to Venezuela and Peru and as the specific epithet implies, the foliage is much like that of the smoke tree, in the genus Cotinus and this name was ascribed to the species by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum i1753. This plant has also long been associated with the name Euphorbia sanguinea, now considered a synonym of Euphorbia amygdaloides subsp. amygdaloides. This confusion dates back to the early 20th century as evidenced by mention of the possible confusion between these species it in the 1928 edition of Liberty Hyde Baily's The Standard Cyclopaedia of Horticulture. Other botanical names this plant has gone under include Alectroctonum cotinifolium, Euphorbia haematodes and Tithymalus cotinifolia and it is also occasionally listed with the cultivar or varietal names "Atropurpurea" or "Burgundy Wine". Besides Caribbean Copper Plant, another common name is Mexican Shrubby Spurge and it is most often confused with the somewhat similar Synadenium compactum var. rubrum (AKA S. grantii 'Rubra), which has heavier stems and more succulent larger leaves that are often green splashed with red. We have grown this unusual and attractive plant since 1986. 

This information about Euphorbia cotinifolia displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.