Scientific Name: Acalypha virginica

Common Name: Virginia threeseed mercury

Other Common Names: mercuryweed, threeseeded mercury, Virginia copperleaf, wax balls

Habit: This summer annual produces flowers from June through October.

Leaves: The leaves are opposite when it's young but it becomes alternate later along the hairy stems. The leaves have toothed margins and turn a copper color with age. The lanceolate leaves can grow from 3/4 to 3 inches long.

Identifying Characteristics: This plant can be identified by copper-colored young leaves and by axillary flower clusters.

Flower Seed Head: Male and female flowers are produced separately on the same plant (monoecious). Both flower types are greenish, inconspicuous, and produced in clusters in the leaf axils on the upper portions of the stem. Female flowers are surrounded by conspicuous, bracts that have 9 to 15 deep lobes.

Seed Fruit: The egg-shaped seeds grow from 1.4 to 1.8 mm long in a 3-lobed seed pod. The seeds are dull reddish-brown or gray with reddish-brown spots.

Where Found: Plants are found from Maine to Florida, west to South Dakota and Texas. They occur throughout much of the eastern two-thirds of the United States. Plants are common in poorly managed turfgrass and pastures. Large populations will occur following tillage.

  • Life cycle: summer annual

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Euphorbiaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: lance

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire; serrated

  • Stem hairs: has hairs

  • Flower color: red

  • Growth habit: upright and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs; has hairs

  • Flower symmetry: radial symmetery

  • Root structure: taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf