Common name: Copperleaf
Botanical name: Acalypha wilkesiana
Other common names: Beefsteak plant, Fire bush, Fijian fire plant, Jacob’s coat
General description: An ornamental evergreen bushy shrub to 2m tall cultivated for its showy colourful foliage.
Flowers: The male and female flowers look different but are borne on the same plant. Flowers are small in racemes or spikes 10 to 20 cm long, usually held amongst the foliage.
Leaves: Alternate leaves are elliptic to broadly ovate with a serrate or coarsely toothed margin, up to 20cm long and 10 to 15cm wide and 5 to 7 nerved from the base. Leaves are green, copper or bronze variously mottled with differing shades and patterns of purple, red, pink, yellow, cream or white. Some cultivars can have a cream or white margin.
Fruit/Berries: The fruit are small, 3-lobed capsules containing numerous hard, small seeds.
Symptoms: Ingestion may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Contact with the clear sap can cause severe dermatitis.
Toxicity category: 2, 3
Warning: Seek medical attention if exposure results in symptoms.