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Pineland Threeseed Mercury (Acalypha ostryifolia Riddell)

Also known as hophornbeam copperleaf, hornbeam copperleaf.

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Pineland Threeseed Mercury
Photo © Clay, CC BY 4.0.


Native to North America and central America, with a scattered distribution northeast to New Jersey, but more common in the south-Central U.S. Has large, rounded leaves which resemble those of hophornbeam, referenced in some of its common names.

Range - Expand

Native or Not Present
Native or Expanded

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.

This weedy plant has expanded its range north into Indiana and Ohio, taking advantage of human agriculture, where it grows as a weed in soybean fields. It will likely continue to expand its range.

Description & Identification

Although this plant is often overlooked, it is visually distinct from the other Acalypha species within its range, and is readily identified by its broad, ovate leaves and long flower spikes which look very different from other members of this genus.


Found mostly on moist disturbed sites in the southern US. This species ranges into hot, semiarid to arid climates, where it is more demanding of moisture. Natural habitats include banks of streams and rivers, swamp margins, and sandy pine woods. More common in anthropogenic habitats, which include active cropland, fallow fields, gardens, and moist, rich areas along railroads and roadsides.

Prefers fertile loamy soil, but tolerates clay, rock, or sand in the soil. Although it is normally limited to moist sites, in the humid southeast it is also found on drier, sandy soils.

Humans have greatly increased the habitat for this species through our creation of highly disturbed habitats, particularly in cropland, where it benefits from tillage, fertilization, and irrigation.

Life Cycle

This species is a warm-season annual, germinating in late spring to early summer.

Acalypha ostryifolia (Hornbeam Mercury) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Acalypha ostryifolia (Pineland Threeseed Mercury) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Acalypha ostryifolia | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Acalypha ostryifolia | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Acalypha ostryifolia | Flora of North America (About This Site)

Acalypha ostryifolia | Missouri Plants (About This Site)

Acalypha ostryifolia Riddell (Hornbeam Copperleaf, Rough-pod Copperleaf) | Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora (About This Site)

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Photo © Clay, CC BY 4.0.