Q: What is the name of this weed?
A: Thank you so much for bringing in a sample to the office during the plant clinic session. This is one of those plants where some people call it a weed and others call it a wildflower. Acalypha virginica, Three-seed mercury plant, is a native annual and we here in Nassau County, Florida will begin to see it popping up in the wooded and wildlife areas in April.
It belongs to the spurge family although it does not always display the white, milky latex fluid in its stems commonly found in other spurge weeds and wildflowers. The flowers of Three-seed mercury or Virginia copperleaf bloom in June and July but they are very, small and pale red in color – not very showy although some experts will disagree with me.
Three-seed mercury plants grow in partial shade and will not tolerate full, afternoon sun. This wildflower has been located in some wetland areas but I have found it in my yard and you know my landscape is not a wetland! Three-seed mercury is a food source for large and small mammals as well as water and terrestrial birds. Three-seed mercury is commonly found from Canada to Florida and as far west as California.