Chenille plant is native to New Guinea, the Malay Archipelago and other islands in the East Indies.
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
Gabon (Africa & Madagascar)
Papua New Guinea (Asia)
Colombia (South America)
Ecuador (South America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- SPECIMEN BASED RECORD. Published protolog data. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/9990002
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- Burger, W. & M. Huft. 1995. Family 113 Euphorbiaceae. Fieldiana, Bot., n.s. 36: 1–169. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1001680
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Light: Full sun to partial shade. Best flowering is on plants in full sun.
Moisture: Chenille plant needs a humid environment and frequent watering during the summer growing season.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 10B - 12. Chenille plant does not tolerate frost.
Propagation: Propagate chenille plant from cuttings taken in summer. Best results come from semi-ripe wood tip cuttings with a heel.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acalypha hispida
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Chenille plant can be grown in a container on the patio or porch, and brought indoors during cold weather. It looks great in a large hanging basket with its fluffy crimson tassels hanging over the sides. It also can be kept as a houseplant in a bright location, but it will require frequent and heavy pruning, as well as regular misting in an air conditioned room. A common practice is to take cuttings every year and have new young and vigorous plants constantly coming on.
In frost free climates, grow this striking ornamental as a free standing specimen shrub or give it a prominent position in a mixed border or hedge.
The brightly colored pendulous tassels of chenille plant are extremely showy, and a specimen in full bloom is a spectacular sight.
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Acalypha hispida, the Chenille plant, is a flowering shrub which belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae, the subfamily Acalyphinae, and the genus Acalypha. Acalypha is the fourth largest genus of the Euphorbiaceae family, and contains many plants native to Hawaii and Oceania. This plant is also known as the Philippines Medusa, red hot cat's tail and fox tail in English, pokok ekor kucing in Malay, Rabo de Gato in Portuguese and Tai tượng đuôi chồn in Vietnamese. Acalypha hispida is cultivated as a house plant because of its attractiveness and brilliantly colored, furry flowers.
The plant originated in Oceania, but has become naturalized to multiple countries in North America, including the United States, Mexico, and Belize. It can grow to be five to twelve feet (1.8-3.7 meters) tall, and have a spread of three to six feet (0.9-1.8 meters), with potted plants being the smallest in growth. The plant has become somewhat domesticated, due to the nature and color of its flowers. It can be grown from seeds as well as from cuttings. It can be kept either as an outdoor plant or as a houseplant. However, care should be taken in growing it, as all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested by animals.
The plant is dioecious, and therefore there are distinct male and female members of the species. The female plant bears pistillate flowers which range in color from purple to bright red, and grow in clusters along catkins. This feature is the primary reason the plant bears the nickname “red-hot cat tail”. The pistillates will grow all year long as long as the temperatures are favorable.
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