Acalypha gracilens Gray - Three Seeded Mercury
Family - Euphorbiaceae
Stems - To +40cm tall, erect, simple or branching in the apical 1/2, single from a taproot and fibrous roots, herbaceous, typically reddish at least at the base, appressed pubescent, terete.
Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles +/-5mm long, antrorse pubescent. Blades linear-lanceolate to linear oblong, to +5cm long, 1cm broad, entire to shallow serrate or crenate, dull green above, light green below, punctate below, antrorse pubescent. Lowest pair of lateral veins emerging at or -1mm above the base of the leaf tissue.
Inflorescence - Brachtiate androgynous racemes to 8-9mm long. Bracts surrounding the pistillate flowers toothed, with 3-5 teeth on each margin, ciliate-margined, antrorse pubescent.
Flowers - Pistillate flowers minute, 3-4 per raceme. Ovary densely pubescent, .4-.6mm long. Style pubescent, -1mm long. Petals translucent, .5mm long, ciliate. Fruits pubescent, with one seed per carpel. Staminate flowers dense and terminating the raceme, in a capitate cluster to +/-5mm long. Petals 4, reflexed, cupped and deflexed at the apices, glabrous, whitish to golden yellow, ovate, acute, .4mm long. Pedicels glabrous, .5mm long, jointed in the middle. Anthers curled. Pollen yellow.
Flowering - May - October.
Habitat - Rocky open glades, rocky prairies, low meadows, rocky open woods, roadsides, railroads.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - This little species is found throughout much of Missouri but is less common in the northern 1/3 of the state. The plant can be identified by its linear-oblong leaves, short petioles, and appressed pubescent stems.
Photographs taken off Lee Rd 54, Auburn, Al., 8-19-04.