Acalypha (Euphorbiaceae)

The name derives from the Greek akalefe given by Hippocrates to the Nettle. The genus includes tropical evergreen plants that, with due precaution, can also be used in the apartment and, in the summer, in the open air; the greatest difficulty encountered in their cultivation in an apartment is the need to keep them well ventilated, without the temperature dipping below 15 ° C. All can reach a good height and lignify. In the wild they are perennial, but in cultivation, they are usually multiplied annually by cuttings because the young plants are more attractive.

the long red inflorescences of the Acalypha
The long red inflorescences of the Acalypha

Cultivated species of Acalypha:

Acalypha hispida (sin sanderi), from India, the only species that is cultivated for its flowers, consisting of long, red-alive pendulous inflorescences that are born at the axis of the obovate, green and pubescent leaves. There are a variety with pinkish white inflorescences and hybrids with Acalypha godseffiana which have yellow inflorescences and variegated leaves; none of these species or varieties bears the sun, even though it requires great luminosity; Acalypha godseffiana, originally from New Guinea, has leaves margined in creamy yellow; Acalypha wilkesiana, from Polynesia, and his var. musaica have mottled leaves in red, orange and pink; all have inconspicuous inflorescences, require strong brightness and in places with a rather humid climate they also bear the full sun.


the cuttings taken at the end of the winter will coalesce with a temperature of about 20 ° C in a humid atmosphere, if necessary under glass. The soil for repotting (when they have well rooted) can be formed of fibrous earth, earth of leaves, peat, and sand; care should be taken to keep it fresh and humid without excess water which may suffocate the roots, especially after flowering.

The Acanthus, already known by the Greeks and Romans for the particular shape of its leaves, was used by them in architecture as a model for the decorations of the Corinthian capital. The idea of representing the columns in the form of fuze with a leafy crowning, dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who created the lentiform, papyriform and palmform capitals.

Also read: Acacia (Leguminosae).