Common name: Chenille plant
Botanical name: Acalypha spp. most commonly A. hispida, A. indica, A. pendula, A. reptans
Other common names: Red hot cat’s tails, Kitten tails, Three-seeded mercury
General description: Evergreen ornamental shrubs to 3m tall with the exception of A. reptans which is a dwarf prostrate form often grown in hanging baskets or as a ground cover.
Flowers: The tiny flowers are clustered onto long velvety hanging spikes or catkins, pink, bright red/crimson, purple or sometimes white (cultivar ‘Alba’) in colour. The dense, fluffy spikes can be 5 (in A. reptans) to 30cm long and up to 2cm wide.
Leaves: Heart-shaped leaves are green, softly hairy, and broadly ovate with pointed tips, 10 to 23cm long, 7 to 10cm wide with a coarsely toothed margin, 3-7 veined from the base. Some cultivars can be smaller, measuring 2 to 3cm long and the same wide.
Fruit/Berries: Fruit is a 3-valved capsule.
Symptoms: Ingestion may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Contact with the clear sap can cause severe dermatitis.
Toxicity category: 2, 3
Warning: Seek medical attention if exposure results in symptoms.