Family: Euphorbiaceae
Common Name: Copper leaf

These gaudy shrubs, with variegated foliage and small tassel-like flowers, are very tender and in frost-prone climates are grown in warm humid greenhouses, conservatories, or as house plants. They can be used for summer bedding.


A. wilkesiana comes from Fiji and the nearby South Pacific islands. It grows into a dense, leafy bush if regularly pruned and well fertilized. It has attractive, shining, ovate leaves, to 20 cm (8 in), bronze-green with rosy red margins to 6 mm (1/4 in) wide. The cultivar laciniata 'Variegate' has shiny, deep green, lance-shaped leaves, 15 cm (6 in) long, with a 3-6 mm (1/8-1/4 in) toothed cream margin. Foliage texture is fine and somewhat lacy. 'Marginata', the best known variety, has oval-shaped reddish brown and bronze-green leaves, 15 cm (6 in) long and 13 cm (5 in) wide, with a rosy red 6 mm (1/4 in) margin and a notched apex. 'Metallica' has shiny purple oval leaves to 15 cm (6 in) long, marked red on top and bronze-green below. The leaves do not have the usual margin. 'Triumphans', the largest of these varieties, has pinkish oval leaves, marked with bronze-green. The leaves are about 23 cm (9 in) long and crimped at the apex. These acalyphas are very striking and although susceptible to wind damage they are valuable for imparting a tropical touch to the garden as temporary summer bedding plants.


Under glass, grow in pots of well-drained soilless potting compost. Outdoors, especially when used for bedding, plant in well-drained light soil, in a warm spot in the garden, with protection from winds which damage the leaves. A southerly aspect is suitable. Although popular in coastal regions, they should be sheltered from strong salt-laden wind. Water during summer and prune lightly in late winter. Propagate from hardwood cuttings in winter and protect young plants from the cold.


Subtropical to tropical.

Acacia      Acanthopanax