Three-seeded mercury

  • Acalypha gracilens, A. rhomboidea
  • Copperleaf, Large-seeded mercury


Brood coverFood
Three-seeded mercury attains a coppery hue in the fall

Three-seeded mercury attains a coppery hue in the fall. By this time, seeds should have ripened and may be used by bobwhites.

©Ted Bodner, USDA-NRCS Plants Database


An important component of brooding habitat

During summer, the growth form of this plant may make it an important component of brooding habitat. Leaves are elliptical. Many important and wildlife-friendly plants respond well to periodic disturbance, and may even require it. Habitat managers should employ techniques such as prescribed buring, disking and grazing to stimulate this and other important plants.

©Ted Bodner, USDA-NRCS Plants Database


Bracts are leaflike appendages at the base of a flower. The bracts of three-seeded mercury are conspicuous and aid in identification.

©James H. Miller, USDA-NRCS Plants Database


These annual plants are characterized by longitudinally folded, lobed, leaflike bracts that persist throughout the growing season. The seeds are small, egg-shaped and dark brown to light gray or tan. The leaves and leafy bracts change from green to copper in the fall as the mature seeds drop. Three-seeded mercury can be found throughout the Midwest from bottomland forests to upland prairies, pastures, old fields and disturbed places. Three-seeded mercury responds well to disking and fertilizer and often occurs along crop fields.

Bloom period

May to October

Use by bobwhites

Many insects are attracted to three-seeded mercury, making it a component of brood habitat for quail. Seeds are readily used by quail for food.