Monographs Details: Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit.
Authority: Britton, Nathaniel L. Flora Borinqueña.
Description:Species Description - Often planted for ornament and interest, much used for hedges, this peculiar, smooth and fleshy, shrubby plant is readily propagated by cuttings or fragments, and is frequent along roads and in waste grounds. Its original home is not certainly known, but it is, apparently, native in the Lesser Antilles, but widely distributed in tropical and subtropical America, north to southern Florida. The English name Slipper Plant, and the Spanish Bejuco de Estrella and Itamo real are sometimes used for it.
Pedilanthus (Greek, Slipper-flower) a Genus established by the French botanist Poiteau in 1812, with the species here illustrated typical, consists of about 30 species. They are fleshy plants, with milky sap, alternate, untoothed leaves, and very irregular inflorescence, in small, terminal or axillary clusters. The very simple flowers have a curious oblique, slipper-shaped involucre with a partially fissured or notched tube; this subtends numerous staminate flowers and a single pistillate one with a 3-celled ovary and a long style. The fruit is a small capsule.
Pedilanthus tithymaloides (resembling Tithymalus, a genus of the same family) has stout, branched stems, about 1.5 meters high, or lower. The leaves are ovate, or oblong-elliptic, pointed, very short-stalked, from 3 to 8 centimeters long, narrowed at the base, with the midvein characteristically flanged on the under side. The red to purple involucres are few together in terminal clusters; they are smooth, with a thin tube, a 4-glandular appendix, and are a little more than 1 centimeter long. The capsule is 8 or 9 millimeters broad.
Two other species of Pedilanthus occur in Porto Rico.
Euphorbia tithymaloides Linnaeus, Species Plantarum 453. 1753.
Pedilanthus tithymaloides Poiteau, Annales de Museum d'Histoire Naturelle 19: 390. 1812.