Virginia Copperleaf, Acalypha virginica
Euphorbiaceae or Spurge Family


Erect plant to about 2 feet tall. Leaves shiny, egg-shaped to ovoid, with a long tips and large teeth, alternating on the stem. Young leaves have a coppery color. Flowers very small, in axils of the leaves. Technically the flowers are inflorescences consisting of one three-part green female flower and several whitish male flowers on the ends of stalks, the whole surrounded by a leaf-like bract, which has 9 to 11 relatively large, sharp-pointed lobes.

Native. Reported in Wildwood in the early species surveys, but not documented in recent years. May have become extinct in the Park, or may have been an error, or may yet persist in hiding. Let us know if you find this species.

Very similar to three-seeded mercury, which used to be a separate species, but is now considered a variety of Virginia copperleaf (A. virginica var. rhomboidea). In three-seeded mercury the bracts under the flowers have only 5 to 7 lobes, and the shiny leaves are green, even when young. Either variety could be mistaken for clearweed (Pilea pumila) which has similar shiny leaves, but that plant has very different flowers.