Euphorbia cotinifolia
Common Name: Mexican shrubby spurge 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Native Range: Mexico to South America
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Air Pollution


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 where plants are best grown in medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of some light shade. Must have sharply-drained soils. Plants generally have good drought tolerance, but appreciate some moisture in dry summer periods. When exposed to winter temperatures below 35 degrees F., plants will drop leaves (become deciduous). Plants are intolerant of frost. North of USDA Zone 10, plants may be grown as foliage annuals. Potted plants may be overwintered indoors.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euphorbia cotinifolia, commonly called smoketree spurge, tropical smokebush or Caribbean copper plant, is a thin-leaved, sometimes deciduous, tropical shrub or small tree that is noted for its attractive burgundy-red foliage. It is native to Mexico. As a shrub, it typically grows to 10-15' tall. It may be trained as a tree with growth to as much as 30' tall. Container plants grown as annuals are much shorter. Purplish stems are clad with broad-elliptic to round leaves (to 4 1/2" long). that emerge red but mature to dark burgundy. Small white flowers (individual flowers lack petals) in loose panicles bloom at the branch ends in summer. Flowers are subtended by white to creamy white bracts. Broken stems exude a white milky sap that is a skin irritant.

Genus name probably honors Euphorbus, physician to the King of Mauretania.

Specific epithet comes from the genus Cotinus (smoketree) and folia (leaf) in reference to the cotinus-like leaves of this euphorbia.

Common names of smoketree spurge and tropical smokebush are also reminiscent of the cotinus common names of smoketree and smokebush.


No known serious insect or disease problems. Use gloves when working with this plant because of the toxic plant sap. Occasional insect pests include aphids, mealybugs and nematodes. Watch for spider mites. Root rot may occur in poorly-drained soils.


Landscape ornamental where winter hardy. Excellent foliage annual for mixed containers.