Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 9 comments

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

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2011 at 5:10 AM

9 Responses

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  1. They remind me of astilbe.


    November 18, 2011 at 7:39 AM

  2. We get Acalypha rhomboidea up here in NH. It looks nothing like A. phleoides (which is far more showy).


    November 18, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    • I looked up A. rhomboidea and I see what you mean. We have a couple of nondescript species here too, which I therefore tend not to notice. The specimen of A. phleoides in today’s photograph was the showiest I can remember ever seeing, which was why I was attracted to it. Stay tuned for an even better (i.e. closer) look in the next post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2011 at 4:17 PM

  3. Very pretty stuff!


    November 18, 2011 at 5:22 PM

  4. There are some plants that simply beg to be touched. This is one of them. I especially like the hint of copper in the blooms. It’s a beautiful color.


    November 18, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    • I’m with you on the touching and the colors. I’m sorry this species doesn’t grow as far east as Houston and the coast, but you can always come to Austin (although, as I mentioned in replying to J. Omega T. above, this specimen was prettier than any other I remember seeing). Tomorrow’s close-up of the flowers will be even more colorful and tactile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2011 at 11:00 PM

  5. […] up on the afternoon of November 8 at the Arbor Walk Pond in north-central Austin, luxuriating in my flower-covered Acalypha, the sky began to clear a bit in the west, beckoning me home. So I faced that way, but not yet […]

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