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California Copperleaf
Acalypha californica
About California Copperleaf (Acalypha californica) Nurseries Show All Photos The flowering shrub Acalypha californica is known as the California copperleaf, and sometimes by the older name Pringle three-seeded mercury. It is the only Acalypha species native to California, where it is found from the Peninsular range foothills hills into the lower desert of San Diego County. It is a member of the chaparral plant community and most often grows in crumbling granite rocks, ledges and cliff faces, though it occasionally grows in sand washes. The plant bears beautiful light green serrated leaves with wavy hairy edges. Younger leaves tend to have pink or red edges. Older leaves turn pinkish or copper-colored in summer months. Stems are white, pink or red. Flowers appear as bumpy pinkish red spikes, sometimes with white speckles, growing out from the base of the leaf stems. It typically grows in a rounded mounding form. Beautiful plant but difficult to find in nurseries.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.5 - 3 ft (0.46 - 0.9 m)

Max. Width
5 ft (1.5 m)



Growth Rate


Flower Color
Pink, Red, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Near the coast it is often found in conjunction with oak woodlands. Inland it is found in desert transition chaparral near granite rocks, ledges and cliffs, and in sandy washes of desert canyons at the base of granite boulders as part of Creosote Bush Scrub or Alluvial Fan Scrub


Elevation ?
27' - 2564'

Annual Precip. ?
4.1" - 17.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 1.40"

Coldest Month ?
46.0° F - 54.9° F

Hottest Month ?
70.1° F - 86.4° F

Humidity ?
1.15 vpd - 37.29 vpd

Soil Description
Typically decomposed granite or sand

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 30° F

Sunset Zones ?
15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22*, 23*, 24*

Butterflies ?

Orthonama obstipata Image
The Gem Orthonama obstipataOrthonama obstipata

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. (Emery and Frey 1971).

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Pringle Three-seeded Mercury, Pringle Threeseeded Mercury

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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