Summer Weed Week–Copper Leaf

How could this innocuous patch of green leaves cause trouble?

A closer look at the plant–copper leaf or acalypha virginica, shows where the trouble will come from. All along the intersections of the leaf and stem joints are the beginnings of buds–where the flowers will form.  The flowers–if you even are able to notice them because they are under the leaves and have no petals–are wind pollinated so they spread their seeds quite easily.  And that’s how, in following years, you get nice thick patches of this weed!

Believe it or not, one of the best sources of information on-line on this weed was on the Scotts site.  Of course they don’t even suggest that you try to control it yourself; rather they suggest that you call them for professional herbicide application.  I guess that’s good marketing at least.

I’ve found it very easy to hand pull, however.  You can see from the photo that it is rather shallowly rooted.  The important thing is to get it while it’s still young and hasn’t set its flowers–this one is just about to bloom.  Otherwise you’ll wind up with lots more copperleaf next year.

And it gets its name from the fact that the new growth is distinctly coppery.  Most of mine grows in the shade so it doesn’t have this characteristic.  But don’t be fooled–it’s still the same weed.

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