Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Herbs, shrubs or small trees, perennial or annual, mostly monoecious. Leaves alternate, often pellucid-punctate, palmatinerved or penninerved, petiolate; stipules minute, rarely paired. Inflorescences axillary or sometimes terminal spikes or lax panicles, unisexual or bisexual, when bisexual the sexes are diversely arranged, males commonly in slender dense-flowered spikes, with one or a few female flowers at base, or the females alone in relatively short less dense- flowered racemes; female bracts often foliaceous, lobed or dentate and accrescent in fruit. Male flowers: mostly minute, with or without bracts; calyx closed in bud, splitting valvately into 2 - 4 segments; petals and disc absent; stamens many, often 8, inserted on a raised central receptacle; filaments free; anther-thecae divaricate, linear, distinct, uniform, often twisted or flexuous;pistillode absent. Female flowers: 1 - 4 in each bract; sepals 3 or 4, imbricate, often minute, shortly connate; ovary (2 or) 3-loculed; styles usually conspicuous, laciniate or lacerate into filiform segments. Fruits capsular, (2 or) 3-locular, with crustaceous cocci, enclosed in accrescent subtending bracts; seeds ovoid or rounded, smooth, sometimes with a conspicuous hilum or caruncle; testa crustaceous, smooth to pitted or tuberculate.

Pantropical, excepting Hawaii and Pacific Islands, a few in temperate regions, ca 450 species; 10 species in India.

Literature. SUSILA RANI, S. R. M. & N. P. BALAKRISHNAN (2007). Diversity in the inflorescences and bracts of the genus Acalypha L. (Euphorbiaceae) in India. J. Econ. Taxon. Bot. 31(1): 91 – 97.


1 a. Female spikes paniculate, terminal; female bracts minute 9. Acalypha paniculata
b. Female and male spikes axillary or terminal; female bracts large 2
2 a. Spikes ending with allomorphic flowers 3
b. Spikes without allomorphic flowers 5
3 a. Female bracts without definite shape, but deeply 3 - 5-lobed; lobes linear, strap- shaped 10. Acalypha superba
b. Female bracts campanulate or tubular, not deeply lobed 4
4 a. Female bracts almost tubular, fimbriate along the rim with long subulate hispid teeth, eglandular 3. Acalypha ciliata
b. Female bracts campanulate, not tubular, shortly toothed along margins, bordered with long hispid gland-tipped hairs 8. Acalypha malabarica
5 a. Spikes unisexual; female spikes terminal; male spikes axillary 1. Acalypha alnifolia
b. Spikes bisexual; female and male flowers in the same axillary or terminal spikes 6
6 a. Female bracts very few, 1 - 5 in each spike 7
b. Female bracts many, 8 – 20 in each spike 8
7 a. Female bracts cup-like, dentate, 5 - 6 mm across 5. Acalypha fruticosa
b. Female bracts rounded, rhombate or orbicular, 1.5 - 2 cm across 9
8 a. Inflorescences terminal and axillary; female bracts 8 – 10 in each spike, large, shallowly and obtusely toothed, without gland-tipped hairs along margins, less crowded on spikes, enclosing the female flowers 6. Acalypha indica
b. Inflorescences all axillary; female bracts 18 – 20 in each spike, small, crenate with gland-tipped hairs along margins, more crowded on spikes; female flowers situated above the bracts, not enclosed by bracts 7. Acalypha lanceolata
9 a. Female bracts 3 – 5 in each spike, ovate-deltoid or rhombate, glandular, 3 - 5- flowered 2. Acalypha australis
b. Female bracts 1 or 2 in each spike, rounded, reniform or orbicular, eglandular, 1 - 2- flowered 4. Acalypha dalzellii


1 a. Leaves entirely green (2). Acalypha hispida
b. Leaves variously coloured and mottled, if green then variously mottled 2
2 a. Leaves ovate, cordate, russet-brown, blotched with paler spots (4). Acalypha stachyura
b. Leaves broadly ovate-lanceolate, variously coloured and mottled 3
3 a. Leaves bronze green, variously mottled (1). Acalypha amentacea
b. Leaves bright green, variously mottled (3). Acalypha integrifolia

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