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Hornbeam Mercury is a nondescript plant that is easily overlooked. Its leaves are supposed to resemble the leaves of hornbeam trees (e.g., Ostrya spp.), hence the common name. Another common name is Rough-Podded Copperleaf, which refers to the spiny-looking seed capsules and the tendency of the foliage to turn reddish brown during the fall. Hornbeam Mercury differs from other native Acalypha spp. by its monoecious flowers (separate spikes of male and female flowers) and its broad serrated leaves that are heart-shaped (cordate) at the base. The leaves remind me of the foliage of woodland plants in the Nettle family, but Hornbeam Mercury occurs in sunnier habitats and the female flowers are surrounded by the lobed bracts that are typical of native Acalypha spp. in Illinois.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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