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Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana

Acalypha amentacea Roxb. ssp. wilkesiana (Müll. Arg.) Fosberg

Acalypha wilkesiana Müll. Arg.

Copper Leaf, Copperleaf

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMalpighialesA broad group encompassing 16,000 species
FamilyEuphorbiaceaeEuphorbia or spurge family
GenusAcalyphaCopperleaves or three-seeded mercuries; means “nettle”
SpeciesamentaceaMeans “narrow dangling flower”
ssp.wilkesianaNamed for Admiral Charles Wilkes, a South Pacific explorer

About plant names...

Copper leaf is a shrub that can reach 15' (4.6 m) in height. In photo 3, the variety is probably ‘Marginata’, since its leaves are fringed in red. This plant is native to Fiji and other nearby islands in the South Pacific. It needs rich, moist, well-drained soil. In Florida, it has escaped cultivation in some areas, though it is not common; it is not established outside of Florida.

Identification: The unusual leaf coloration and restricted range in the United States are probably enough to distinguish copper leaf from other plants.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones All parts of copper leaf are highly toxic when ingested, and may cause rashes.

Medical: Recent research (2010) suggests that extracts from this plant are beneficial for the treatment of diabetes, and may lead to future treatments.

Online References:

Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana on Forest and Kim Starr’s Starr Environmental site (great photos)

Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana on FLORIDATA

Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana on Wikimedia Commons (photos)

Acalypha amentacea ssp. wilkesiana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Oct 2013.

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Acalypha amentacea (Copper Leaf, Copperleaf)

1 · 8/31/2013 · Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 15 cm)

Acalypha amentacea (Copper Leaf, Copperleaf)

2 · 2/26/2010 · San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA ID is uncertain

Acalypha amentacea (Copper Leaf, Copperleaf)

3 · 3/2/2001 · Kula Botanical Garden, Maui, HI

Range: Zones 10a-11:

About this map...