Acalypha tricolor Hort.
A much-branched monoecious shrub up to 4.5 m. Young shoots tomentose, later puberulous. Petioles (1-) 2-5 (-9) cm long. Leaf-blade broadly ovate, 5-17 (-25) x 5-13 cm, shortly obtusely or acutely acuminate, rounded-cuneate to cordate, crenate-serrate, 7-11-nerved from the base,. sparingly pubescent above and beneath at first, especially along the midrib and main veins, later subglabrescent, often copper- or bronze-coloured, sometimes white- or pink-margined (var. marginata Mill.) or variegated. Stipules subulate, 1-1.5 cm long. Inflorescences axillary, solitary, unisexual, spicate; the males up to 7 cm long, fairly dense-flowered, with a pubescent axis and lanceolate bracts c. 1 mm long; the females up to 12 cm long, lax-flowered, with a puberulous axis; female bracts 7-13-partite, the median lobe broadly ovate and accrescent to 5 mm long and 3 mm wide, the laterals smaller and narrower, 1-flowered. Male flowers sessile; buds tetragonal, pubescent. Female flowers sessile; sepals 3-4, ovate-lanceolate, 1 mm long, acute; ovary subglobose-trilobate, 1 mm diam, densely pubescent; styles united at the base, (5-) 7-9 mm long, laciniate, yellowish-or greenish-white, occasionally reddish. Fruits trilobate, 1.5-2 mm long, 4 mm diam., smooth, pubescent.
Holotype: Polynesia, Fiji, U.S. Expl. Expedn. under Capt. Wilkes, s.n. (K).
Distribution: Native to Polynesia; widely cultivated as an ornamental in the tropics generally.
Many varieties and forms of this species have been described in the past, most of which would be treated as cultivars today. Among the more prevalent in cultivation are var. marginata Mill. (q.v. description above), f. illustris (Hort) J.J. Sm., with pale yellow mottlings on the green leaves, f. triumphant (Lind. et Rodig) J.J. Sm., with reddish leaves and f. circinata Muell. Arg., with the leaves somewhat contracted and deformed at the base, and the inflorescences curved.