Acalypha is a plant genus of the family Euphorbiaceae. It is the sole genus of the subtribe Acalyphinae. With 450 to 500 species of herbs and shrubs, the genus is only behind Euphorbia, Croton and Phyllanthus in term of Malpighiales diversity. The common names are copperleaves or three-seeded mercuries.

These plants are mostly tropical or subtropical (but not present in Hawaiʻi and several other Pacific Islands), with a few representatives in temperate zones. The Americas contain two third of the known species, distributed from southern United States to Uruguay and northern Argentina.

Several species, such as A. ecuadorica, A. eggersii and A. raivavensis are nearly extinct, and the St. Helena Mountain Bush or "stringwood" (A. rubrinervis) already is.


Chenille Plant (A. hispida), cultivated as houseplant because of its colorful and texturally exciting flowers, is by far the best-known species. Others are grown for their foliage and a number of cultivars have been developed,m such as A. wilkesiana cv. 'Obovata Cristata'. A. bipartita is eaten as a vegetable in some parts of Africa.

Selected species



  • (1924): Euphorbiaceae-Crotonoideae-Acalypheae-Acalyphinae. In: : Das Pflanzenreich Series IV '147.XVI (85): 1-231.
  • (2004): Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2: Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.

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