This Texas native poinsettia is also known as “fire on the mountain.” This small spreading plant does indeed resemble its showier relative, the Christmas poinsettia; with those striking reddish-orange colored bracts beneath the much less showy, small white flowers.
Texas poinsettia generally stays 18 to 24 inches tall, but can get taller, especially in deep shade, if it’s stretching for more light.
I was truly amazed by these native poinsettias in our demonstration garden during summer 2011’s record-breaking heat and drought. With only one irrigation per week, the plants looked fabulous all summer long. They did get a little wilty in the afternoon, but were always perked up by morning.
They flower from late summer through fall and they’re annuals, so they will come back in your garden next year from seed. The leaves have an interesting pointy shape and the orange coloring on the bracts look like arrows, pointing out to insect pollinators just exactly where the inconspicuous little flowers are.
Native poinsettias spread by seeds and by clumping, but they really aren’t invasive in the landscape. A few people have remarked to me that they decided they didn’t want it anymore but it still came back, even after they pulled it out. So be careful where you put it, but be assured that it will come back year after year, in even the worst conditions.
It’s listed as hardy to zone 4, which is negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit, so it also won’t have any trouble surviving our winters. Although I haven’t seen it for myself, I’ve also heard reports that grasshoppers don’t eat wild poinsettias, which sounds like a pretty positive quality to me!