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Acalypha gracilens is often confused with:
Acalypha virginica Form
Native alternative(s) for Acalypha gracilens:
Euphorbia maculata Leaves
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Sedum ternatum Sedum ternatum
Gentiana saponaria Form
Symphyotrichum cordifolium Symphyotrichum cordifolium

Acalypha gracilens

Previously known as:

  • Acalypha gracilens var. delzii
  • Acalypha gracilens var. fraseri
  • Acalypha virginica var. fraseri
  • Acalypha virginica var. gracilens
Phonetic Spelling
ak-uh-LY-fuh grass-il-ENS
Description

Acalypha gracilens, or Slender Threeseed Mercury, is an native, herbaceous, annual wildflower in the spurge family typically found in the Eastern United States. The botanical name, Acalypha is Greek and refers to the nettle-like shape of the leaves. Gracilens is Latin for slender or graceful.

Slender Threeseed Mercury has very showy bracts. (The best example of colorful bracts can be found on Poinsettias, which are also members of the Euphorbiaceae family.) Slender Threeseed Mercury is considered a weed and will grow just about anywhere, including sandy pinewoods, mixed forests, rocky outcrops as well as disturbed areas. The plant has a taproot that can grow deep in the soil, making it difficult to dislodge once established. A better strategy to avoid continuous weeding is to deadhead the flowers as soon as seed is set or dig out the plant while it is still small.

Slender Threeseed Mercury is a slender, upright plant that grows to a height between 1 and 3 feet depending on growing conditions. The stems are branched and green or reddish-brown. This, combined with its striking fall coloring, leads to the common names Shortstalk Copperleaf and Slender Copperleaf. The plant has male and female flowers.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

No known disease or insect problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#NC native#native wildflower#native annual#native weed#colorful bracts
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#NC native#native wildflower#native annual#native weed#colorful bracts
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Acalypha
    Species:
    gracilens
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and eastern United States.
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Native Plant
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is less than an inch around. Each female flower has the capacity to produce three seeds if well pollinated. There is one variety, monococca, which produces only one seed. After pollination, a small, three lobed 'crown' develops with a seed in each developed lobe. The plant is air pollinated.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Crown
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Insignificant half inch flowers, but colorful bracts that bloom mid-spring. The flowers are carried in the axils of the leaves, (that is, the point where the leaf emerges from the stem). The plant produces female and male flowers held on a raceme less than half an inch long. The female flower, at the base, has tiny, bright green bracts with serrated edges and translucent 'hairs' at the base of the pistil. It is only after pollination has occurred that the flowers become more obvious. The male flowers are held at the end of the raceme in a tight cluster of many flowers around a quarter of an inch long. They have white to golden yellow petals.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Filiform
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are set alternately on the stem, very narrow and between one and two inches long. They are a bright green color turning reddish copper in the autumn.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stem is slender and usually straight with branching. It carries small hairs along its entire length. The color can vary from green to reddish-brown.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Problems:
    Weedy