Acalypha wilkesiana Müll.Arg., Prodr. 15(2): 817 (1866)

Named after Charles Wilkes [1798-1877], leader of the United States Exploring Expedition [1832-1842] that covered most of the southern hemisphere.

Acalypha amentacea forma circinata (Müll.Arg.) Fosberg
Acalypha amentacea subsp. wilkesiana (Müll.Arg.) Fosberg
Acalypha circinata A.Gray ex Seem. [Invalid]
Acalypha compacta Guilf. ex C.T.White
Acalypha godseffiana Mast.
Acalypha godseffiana var. heterophylla L.H.Bailey
Acalypha hamiltoniana Briant
Acalypha illustris Pax & K.Hoffm. [Invalid]
Acalypha macafeeana Veitch
Acalypha macrophylla Veitch [Illegitimate]
Acalypha marginata (Mill.) J.J.Sm. [Illegitimate]
Acalypha musaica auct.
Acalypha torta Pax & K.Hoffm. [Invalid]
Acalypha tricolor Seem.
Acalypha triumphans L.Linden & Rodigas
Acalypha wilkesiana forma appendiculata J.W.Moore
Acalypha wilkesiana forma circinata Müll.Arg.
Acalypha wilkesiana forma illustris J.J.Sm.
Acalypha wilkesiana forma macrophylla J.J.Sm.
Acalypha wilkesiana var. marginata E.Morren
Acalypha wilkesiana forma monstrosa J.J.Sm.
Acalypha wilkesiana forma triumphans (L.Linden & Rodigas) J.J.Sm.
Ricinocarpus wilkesianus (Müll.Arg.) Kuntze

A densely branched rounded shrub up to 12 m tall, monoecious, tomentellous to pubescent. Petioles 15 cm long. Leaf blades usually up to 15 10 cm, sometimes larger, elliptic-ovate to broadly ovate, obtusely acuminate at the apex, crenate-dentate on the margins, cuneate or rounded at the base, 57-nerved from the base, membranous, sparingly pubescent along the midrib and main veins on both surfaces at first, later glabrescent, green, copper or bronze and variously variegated with purple, red, pink, cream-coloured or white, or else pink-, cream- or white-margined; lateral nerves in pairs. Stipules 7 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, acutely acuminate. Inflorescences axillary, usually solitary, spicate, unisexual, on the same or different shoots. Male spikes up to 12 cm long, densely but interruptedly flowered; bracts minute, many-flowered.Female spikes up to 7 cm long, lax flowered; bracts c. 5 mm, ovate, later accrescent, dentate, with 36 teeth on each side, sparingly pubescent to subglabrous, 1-flowered.Male flowers sessile or so; buds tetragonal, subglabrous, reddish; anthers yellowish. Female flowers sessile; sepals 34, 1 mm long, ovate, subacute; ovary 1.5 mm in diameter, subglobose, tomentose; styles c. 6 mm long, united at the base, deeply laciniate, red. Fruits 4 mm, 3-lobed, pubescent.

Disturbed open sites. Often in gardens, along roads, in villages.

Originally from the south-western Pacific, but currently world wide in (sub-)tropical climates where it is often introduced as an ornamental.

Ornamental. In New Ireland, leaves are heated over a fire and squeezed when soft. The juice is drunk to soothe throat infections such as laryngitis. In New Britain leaves are used to treat diarrhoea, whereas on the Gazelle Peninsula, leaf juice is drunk with water to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. In the Central Province boiled leaves are used to massage people suffering from fever. In the Southern Highlands the bark is used as a poison. In Fiji, an infusion of leaves and bark is drunk as a treatment for pleurisy. The leaves are squeezed and mixed with water, and drunk to regulate menstruation. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat gastritis and lymphoid swellings. In Central America, fresh leafy branches are externally applied to induce perspiration, apparently for their rubefacient effect. Similarly, heated leaves are applied to cure fevers. Likewise fresh or heated leaves are externally applied to relieve rheumatic pains, inflammations and swellings. In West Africa the water extract of the reddish form is traditionally used for treating skin problems. Used as a hedge plant (e.g. Ghana, Java). The leaves and young shoots are used as vegetables, eaten with rice-dishes.[PROTA]

Local names
Colombia: Barbas de guasco.
English: Beefsteak plant, Copper leaf, Fire-dragon, Joseph's coat, Match-me-if-you-can.
Fiji: Kalabuci damu.
French: Manteau de Saint-Joseph.
German: Buntlaubiges Kupferblatt.
Guatamala: Capa del rey.
Indonesia: Daun nansi (Sunda Islands).
Papua New Guinea: Kavus (Lamasong, New Ireland), Kokoai (Raluana, Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain), Haunuana (Delena, Central Province).
Portugese: Crista do perú.
Puerto Rico: Acalifa, Capa de obispo.
Sweden: mosaikblad.
Thailand: Pho ngoen, Pho daang (central), Bai ngoen (southeastern).
Vietnam: tai t[uw][owj]ng d[or].