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Products > Euphorbia cotinifolia
Euphorbia cotinifolia - Caribbean Copper Plant

[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.  The information on this page is based on our research that has been conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in the nursery, in the nursery's garden, and in other gardens where it has been observed. We also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing  Euphorbia cotinifolia.