Acalypha gracilens

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Acalypha gracilens A. Gray
Acalypha gracilens Gil.jpg
Photo was taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Acalypha
Species: A. gracilens
Binomial name
Acalypha gracilens
A. Gray
ACAL GRAC dist.jpg
Natural range of Acalypha gracilens from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Slender threeseed mercury; Three-seeded mercury; Shortstalk copperleaf

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Acalypha gracilens var. delzii, A. gracilens var. fraseri, A. virginica var. gracilens[1].

Description

Annual. Plant is erect with pubescent stems coming from the taproots. The leaves are alternate with two lateral veins beginning from the base, prominent and parallel to the midrib, crenate to crenate-serrate, or petiolate. The spikes are axillary or terminal, or both. The bracts are leaf-like. There are no petals. The flowers are pistillate with 3-5 sepals and a 3-locular ovary. The staminate flowers with 4 sepals and 8-16 stamens. The capsules are broader than they are long.[2]

The plant grows up to 0.8 m high. The stems are freely branched and densely pubescent with short incurved (or appressed) ascending trichomes. The leaves are elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate which are 2-6 cm long and 0.5-2 cm wide, obtuse, crenate. The base of the leaves are cuneate to rounded, with pubescence of both surfaces (more or less glabrate). The petioles of principle leaves are 0.4-1.5cm long. The axillary spike has 1-5 pistillate flowers near the base that are interrupted and continued with a spike of staminate flowers. The pistillate bracts are often stipitate-glandular, teeth triangular, 5-13. The seeds are reddish to black in color and are ovoid, 1.2-1.8 mm long. Flowers in June and into late frost.[2]

Distribution

It is frequent in north, central, and west Florida. This is also found west to Texas and north to Massachusetts. A. gracilens is also found in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and West Virginia.[2]

Ecology

Habitat

In the Coastal Plain it can be found frequently burned sandhills (Entisol soils), pine flatwoods (Spodosol soils), and upland pine communities (Ultisol soils), as well as floodplain forest (Alphasol soils). It thrives in frequently burned pine communities.[3] It occurs in both native communities and areas with very disturbed soil. It occurs in a fairly wide range of well-drained soils, from deep sand to loams. It is light tolerance is fairly broad, from full light to shaded areas on the edges of open areas[4]. Common plant in southeastern U.S. pine communities. It is found in sandhills, flatwoods, hammocks, woodlands and disturbed sites.[2][5] In addition to the Coastal Plain it is common throughout the Piedmont region and infrequent in the mountains.[2]

Associated species include Liatris gracilis, L. tenuifolia, Polygonella gracilis, Diodia teres, Chrysopis lanuginosa, Rubus cuneifolis, Hypericum gentianoides, Trichostema dichotomum, Eupatorium compositifolium, and others[4].

Phenology

Flowers spring to fall through most of its range. Flowers all year in south Florida.[5]

Seed dispersal

This species is believed to be dispersed by ants and/or explosive dehiscence. [6]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. [[1]] Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Accessed: March 21, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 664-665.
  3. Heuberger, K. A. and F. E. Putz (2003). Fire in the suburbs: ecological impacts of prescribed fire in small remnants of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) sandhill. Restoration Ecology 11: 72-81.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, Cecil R. Slaughter, R.A. Norris, R.F. Doren, and Robert K. Godfrey. States and Counties: Florida: Calhoun, Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, and St. Johns. Georgia: Thomas. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hall, David W. Illustrated Plants of Florida and the Coastal Plain: based on the collections of Leland and Lucy Baltzell. 1993. A Maupin House Book. Gainesville. 159.
  6. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.