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Acalypha villicaulis – a bushy perennial herb that belongs to the botanical family Euphorbiaceae.

Image of Acalypha villicaulis plant at Google

Acalypha villicaulis is a bushy perennial herb that belongs to the botanical family Euphorbiaceae. This perennial can grow up to a height of 2m. It is found throughout tropical Africa, except humid central Africa, variety of woodland and grassland habitats and at the fringes of riverine and evergreen forest, from Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and N Nigeria.

This is a medicinal plant and its Leaf is used to make decoctions and is drunk to treat intestinal worms. The shrub is used for rheumatism, fever, constipation, cough medicine, syphilis, scabies, and dysentery, to heal wounds, leprosy and venereal diseases. Its flexible stems are used to make baskets and fish traps and the stems yield a black dye.

This plant is used as a medicinal plant in West and East Africa. People in West Africa cook its leaves and eat as a vegetable. It is also fed to the cattle. It is used as a Siddha medicine to rejuvenate the body.

In Ayurveda, it is used for treating stomach pain and dysentery.

The leaves are elliptic to ovate in shape and lanceolate about 10 × 5.5 cm with 3-5 veins which arise from the base. The leaves are thinly textured and slightly hairy to hairless on both sides and marginally toothed. The petiole is about 7cm in length. The stems are velvety. The flowers have axillary spikes and are about 3cm in length. They are held in bracts and have teeth on its margins about 4mm in length. They have greenish and yellow colored anthers. The fruits are 1.5 × 2.5 mm and smooth. They are 3 lobed and almost hairless.

This is a genus that is a subtribe of Acalyphinae. There are about 450-500 species of Acalypha are known. They are commonly known as copper leaves or three-seeded mercuries. These plants are tropical and subtropical in nature. Some of the species are extinct like string wood.
It is used as a houseplant and a vegetable.

Growing/Caring conditions for Acalypha villicaulis:
– This plant can be propagated from cuttings.
– Take the cuttings in early spring using pruners.
– Cut about 3-4 inches tip in an angle about ½ inches.
– The cutting should be from below a pair of leaves.
– The stem cuttings should be kept cool and moist until planted.
– Put them in shade or in a damp place or wrapped in a damp towel.
– Put potting soil in a pot and dig a hole in the centre.
– Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
– Cut the leaves into half to avoid touching other leaves.
– Place the tray or the pot in a plastic bag for some time.
– Too much of sunlight needs to be avoided to burn the stem cuttings.
– Keep the soil moist and check everyday.
– When cuttings start to root, remove the plastic bag.
– Place them nicely into the pot or transplant it to a larger pot for it to grow wider.
– Place it outside once the danger of frost is passed.

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