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Pringle Three-seeded Mercury

Acalypha californica

Watercolor of Acalypha californica foliage with flowers © by Michael Plagens

Acalypha californica close-up of flowers © by Michael Plagens

Observed in bloom in the Ajo Mountains, Pima Co., Arizona, USA. 21 March 2010. The red, thread-like structures are the elongated styles of the female flower. This inflorescence does not have any male flowers and has two female flowers.

RANGE: Infrequent near Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona. Also in northern Mexico and southern California. Habitat is partially shady, well watered canyons.

SUB-SHRUB: Mostly herbaceous stems are ½ to 1 meter or more tall and are reddish in color. Lower portions of the plant are woody.

LEAVES: Alternate hairy to glandular leaves are light or dark green and have rounded teeth on the margins (crenulate). The leaves may also have a reddish cast especially during the winter season.

FRUIT: Distinctly three-valved capsules.

FLOWERS: The minute male flowers are numerous in a catkin-like spike directly above the one to three female flowers. The female flowers are set inside a green, cup-like brackt and have long, conspicuous, red, branching stigmas. See close-up view at left.


Euphorbiaceae -- Spurge Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010