Acalypha hispida

Acalypha hispida, Photo: Michael Lahanas


Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Malpighiales
Familia: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamilia: Acalyphoideae
Tribus: Acalypheae
Genus: Acalypha
Species: Acalypha hispida

Name

Acalypha hispida, Burm.f.

References

* Fl. indica 303. 1768
* USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]

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The Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) is a flowering shrub which belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae, the subfamily Acalyphinae, and the genus Acalypha. Acalypha is the fourth largest genus of the Euphorbiaceae family, and contains many plants native to Hawaii and Oceania. This plant is also known as the Philippines Medusa, red hot cat's tail and fox tail in English, pokok ekor kucing in Malay, Rabo de Gato in Portuguese and Tai tượng đuôi chồn in Vietnamese. Acalypha hispida is cultivated as a house plant because of its attractiveness and brilliantly colored, furry flowers.

Origins

The plant originated in Oceania, but has become naturalized to multiple countries in North America, including the United States, Mexico, and Belize. It can grow to be six to twelve feet (1.8-3.7 meters) tall, and have a spread of three to six feet (0.9-1.8 meters). The plant has become somewhat domesticated, due to the nature and color of its flowers. It can be grown from seeds as well as from cuttings. It can be kept either as an outdoor plant or as a houseplant. However, care should be taken in growing it, as all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested by animals.

Characteristics

The plant is dioecious, and therefore there are distinct male and female members of the species. The female plant bears pistillate flowers which range in color from purple to bright red, and grow in clusters along catkins. This feature is the primary reason the plant bears the nickname “red-hot cat tail”. The pistillates will grow all year long as long as the temperatures are favorable.

Webster, Grady (1994). "Synopsis of the Genera and Suprageneric Taxa of Euphorbiaceae". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 81: 90.

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