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The pretty Poinsettia grows well on Tenerife

Updated on February 20, 2016

The Poinsettia is a Christmas flower

The Poinsettia’s botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima means “very beautiful spurge” and this is a very apt description of this popular shrub. With its bright red bracts around the flowers it has become a symbol of Christmas, which is the time of year that the plant comes into bloom.

The Poinsettia comes originally from Mexico and parts of Guatemala but is grown in many parts of the world now because of its ornamental value. It can often be seen in Tenerife parks, gardens and shrub borders.

Colourful Poinsettia photos

Poinsettia bush Photo by Steve Andrews
Poinsettia bush Photo by Steve Andrews
Poinsettia in a pot Photo by Steve Andrews
Poinsettia in a pot Photo by Steve Andrews
Crown of Thorns Photo by Steve Andrews
Crown of Thorns Photo by Steve Andrews

Poinsettias are in the Spurge family

The Poinsettia does best in the north of the island and in late autumn and winter stands out with the blazes of colour it makes along many a roadside, as well as on roundabouts and in flower borders.

The Poinsettia got its English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first American ambassador to Mexico to introduce it to the U.S. in 1825.

Christmas Star

The Poinsettia is also known as the Mexican Flame Leaf, Christmas Star, Winter Rose and Noche Buena.

On Tenerife, large quantities of Poinsettias are planted to make seasonal displays in parks and public gardens at Christmas time. Individual plants are often grown in pots on balconies, terraces, and in the entrances to private and public buildings.

Poinsettias are shrubs that can easily grow into small trees. They are able to reach a height of as much as 16 ft but are usually a lot less than this.

The Poinsettia has dark green real leaves that can be up to 6 inches in length. The top leaves of the shrub, are technically known as bracts. They look like flower petals with their flaming red, pink, or white colours but they are a type of modified leaf.

The real flowers of the Poinsettia are the little yellowish ones found in the middle of the surrounding bracts.


The Poinsettia is a member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Some euphorbia species look more like cacti whilst other types have normal leaves, and yet others grow as succulent shrubs or small trees.

All species have a milky-white and poisonous latex. In Spanish the spurges are known as “Tabaibas” and many endemic as well as introduced types grow on Tenerife.

Some examples that can be seen on the island are: Tabaiba Roja, the “Red Spurge” (Euphorbia atropurpurea ), Tabaiba Dulce, the “Sweet Spurge” (Euphorbia balsamifera), and the Cardón or Canary Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis), all of which are endemic types.

The Milk-striped Spurge (Euphorbia lactea) and the Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia splendens) are two non-endemic plants in the family that are often grown in gardens and parks in Tenerife because of their great ornamental value. The Cardón and the Milk-striped Spurge are two of the types that resemble cacti and have sturdy succulent stems with spines as protection.


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