Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Acalypha neomexicana, New Mexico Copperleaf

Scientific Name: Acalypha neomexicana
Common Name: New Mexico Copperleaf
Also Called: Hierba de Cancer, Three-seeded Mercury
Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge or Euphorbia Family
Synonyms: ()
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 15 inches more or less 93.8 dm).
Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems erect, small plants without many branches but larger plants have many ascending branches; the plants are often tinged with a golden-red; short hairs; unlike many other Euphorbiaceae, plants do not exude milky sap.
Leaves: Greenish-golden, some golden-reddish; leaves ovate, alternate, leaves with petioled, leaf tips acute, bases rounded, margins serrate except at base, leaf surfaces strigose.
Flower Color: Greenish, inconspicuous, both male and female flowers, from terminal or axillary spikes, all flowers subtended by bracts; fruit a 3-lobed hairy capsule
Flowering Season: August to October or November.

Elevation: 2,500 to 7,500 feet (762-2286 m).

Habitat Preferences: Moist or shaded areas, rocky soils; oak or pine woodlands, desert grasslands.

Recorded Range: New Mexico Copperleaf is found in the southwest United States in AZ, NM and TX. In Texas it is found in the trans-Pecos region. This species also is found in northern and central Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Acalypha neomexicana.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 16 species and 27 accepted taxa overall for Acalypha; this species is mostly tropical and sub-tropical. Most species are found east of Texas. Several are introduced. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 456 accepted species names and a further 360 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 5 species of genus, California has 1 species, Nevada has 0 species, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 11 species, Utah has 0 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes. Most species are east of Texas. Several introduced species.

Comments: It is interesting that the genus is mostly tropical and subtropical in distribution and most of the species in North American occur east of the Mississippi River. It is notable that species found in Arizona and New Mexico do not extend to the east and are limited in distribution to the southwest, although they are more of an upper desert or transition species in upper riparian areas. Many of the species found in Texas extend their distribution to the east.

Acalypha is from Greek word "akalephes" for nettle, apparently inspired by the nettle-like leaves. The species epithet, "neomexicana" is a reference to the state of New Mexico which is included in part of its native habitat.

No information available

Date Profile Completed: 06/16/2019
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 06/16/2019)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; - (accessed 06/16/2019).
Plagens, Michael J. Plagens, Arizonensis; Arizona Naturalists; Sycamore Gallery Flora; Euphorbiaceae; Acalypha neomexicana
Levin, Geoffrey A., 1995Euphorbiaceae Part One: Acalypha and Cnidoscolus - JANAS 29(1):18-24. 1995.
Levin, Geoffrey A., FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 12 | Euphorbiaceae |11. Acalypha neomexicana Müller Arg., Linnaea. 34: 19. 1865.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 06/16/2019).
Wikipedia contributors, 'Acalypha', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 June 2019, 16:37 UTC, [accessed 16 June 2019]
S. Buckley 2010, F. S. Coburn 2015, A. Hazelton 2017