Euphorbia tithymaloides is native to tropical and subtropical North America and Central America. It prefers soil that is sandy, well-drained, and nutrient-rich, particularly with higher concentrations of boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. It is relatively intolerant of high soil salinity levels, but exhibits saline tolerance if well fertilized. The plant tends to be taller and have more biomass if it is well-watered. The plant requires a sunny area to grow in.
The shrub can grow to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) in height and generally is about 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 cm) in width. The leaf is a simple angiosperm leaf, arranged oppositely on the stem. Each leaf is sessile (attaching directly to the plant), and about 1.4 to 3 inches (3.6 to 7.6 cm) in length. The leaves are glabrous (smooth) and acuminate in shape, with entire (smooth) edges. The veins in the leaves are pinnate.
The plant terminates in a dichotomous cyme, with a peduncle supporting each flower. The floral leaves are bifid (split in two parts) and ovate, while the involucral bracts are bright red, irregularly acuminate in shape (e.g., like a slipper), and about 0.043 to 0.051 inches (1.1 to 1.3 mm) in length with a long, thin tube. The flower is void of scent. The male pedicel is hairy, while the female is glabrous. The seed pod is about 0.30 inches (7.6 mm) long and 0.35 inches (8.9 mm) wide, and ovoid in shape (with truncated ends).
The plant generally flowers in mid-spring