Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for November 18th, 2011

Acalypha

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Acalypha phleoides flowers; click for greater detail.

The last thing I photographed on November 8 at the Arbor Walk Pond in north-central Austin was Acalypha phleoides, known as three-seeded mercury and shrubby copperleaf. The shrubby part fits, sort of, but clumpy would be a better word, because this group of plants was rounded and rather low, rising not more than a foot off the ground. But humble stature aside, the plants were fully flowering, and each stalk in the little forest of them was lengthily covered with a span of red feathery female flowers.

And oh, patriarchy: look how a few compact male flowers lord it over the much greater number of soft and feathery females compliant below. The male flowers apparently develop later and therefore initially take up only a little space on the tip of the stalk, but the span devoted to them eventually increases in length as well.

All in all, the reddish floral display was quite appealing, as I think you’ll agree from the picture, which shows a sloping portion of the upper regions of the flowering clump.

For more information about Acalypha phleoides, including a state-clickable map showing where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2011 at 5:10 AM

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