Herbs or shrubs, our species annual, monoecious. Stems mostly erect and branched. Leaves alternate, entire or toothed, petioled, stipulate. Flowers in axillary and terminal spikes or spike-like racemes, the staminate cluster peduncled, each flower in the axil of a minute bractlet, with a 4-parted calyx and 8-16 stamens united at their bases. Pistillate flowers subtended by a fo!ir.ceous bract which often equals or overtops the staminate, the calyx 3-5-parted, ovary 3-celled; stigmas fringed; petals wanting in both kinds of flowers; capsule usually of 3 2-valved carpels, each I-seeded. [Greek, nettle.]

About 250 species, mostly tropical and subtropical. Type species: Acalypha virginica L.

Staminate and pistillate flowers in separate spikes or racemes; capsule spiny.


A. ostryaefolia.

Staminate and pistillate flowers in the same spike or raceme; capsule smooth.

Plant not glandular; bract palmately many-lobed, equalling or exceeding the staminate spike.


A. virginica.

Plant glandular; bract many-cleft, shorter than the staminate spike.


A. gracilens.

6 Acal pha L Sp Pl 1003 1753 1063

1. Acalypha Ostryaefòlia Ridd. Hornbeam Three-Seeded Mercury

Fig. 2721

Acalypha carol iniana Ell. Bot. S. C. & Ga. 2: 645. 1824. Not Walt. 1788.

Acalypha ostryaefolia Riddell, Syn. Fl. W. States, 33. 1835.

Dark green, minutely pubescent. Stem erect, rather stout, simple or branched, 1°-2 1/2° tall. Leaves thin, or membranous, ovate, 2Y-4' long, short-acuminate, serrate, obtuse or cordate at the base, the petioles often as long as the blades; staminate and pistillate flowers in separate spikes, the bractlets of the staminate minute, those of the pistillate conspicuous, lobed; capsule much depressed, 3-lobed, 1 1/2"-2" in diameter, spiny; seeds ovoid, 1" long, wrinkled.

New Jersey to Ohio, Kansas, Florida and Mexico. Bahamas, Cuba. June-Nov.

1 Acalypha Ostryaef Lia Ridd Hornbeam Three Seeded 1064

2. Acalypha Virginica L. Virginia Three-Seeded Mercury, Mercury-Weed

Fig. 2722

Acalypha virginica L. Sp. Pl. 1003. 1753.

Dark green or becoming purplish, somewhat pubescent. Stem erect or ascending, 3'-2° tall; leaves ovate or elliptic, 10"-4' long, thin, coarsely serrate except near the base; staminate and pistillate flowers in the same axillary clusters, the staminate spike pedun-cled, usually included in the large palmately lobed bract; pistillate flowers 1-3 at the base of the staminate peduncle; capsule 3-lobed, subglobose, about 1 1/2" in diameter, smooth, sometimes slightly pubescent; seeds ovoid, reddish, striate.

In woods and thickets, Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Florida and Texas. Occurs at 3000 ft. in Georgia. Upper leaves commonly forming a flat-topped cluster. June-Oct.