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ACALYPHA wilkesiana 'Cypress Elf'

Image of Acalypha wilkesiana 'Cypress Elf'

Carol Cloud Bailey



Botanical Name

ACALYPHA wilkesiana 'Cypress Elf'

Plant Common Name

Copperplant, Dwarf Copperplant, Wilkes' Acalypha

General Description

The compact copperplant, 'Cypress Elf', has delightful narrow, pendulous leaves that are reddish bronze to green with pink or magenta margins. Unlike other copperleafs, this super bushy selection has subdued colors amenable to many landscape planting schemes. It even looks great in containers. This cultivar may also be sold under the name,'Mardi Gras.'

An evergreen shrub native to the Pacific islands, copperleaf bears brightly colored foliage in shades or red, purple, bronze and green. It is a popular landscape plant in subtropical and tropical zones and planted as a houseplant or annual in cooler zones. The name, Acalypha wilkesiana, honors Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, an American Naval Officer who explored the South Pacific during the mid-1800s.

Beautiful, mottled leaves are the reason copperleaf is so popular in the garden. They are large, oval to elliptical, and alternate along the stems. The leaf edges are distinctly toothed and sometimes differ in color from the rest of the leaf. Different cultivars have different unique color combinations in shades of red, copper, bronze, purple, white and/or green. Tiny, inconspicuous, reddish flowers are produced in thin, hanging spikes called catkins. They are followed by capsule fruits filled with minuscule hard seeds.

Copperleaf grows well in both full sun or partial shade. The leaves are more brightly colored if plants are given a bit of shade during the hottest part of the day. Indoor specimens should be provided bright, indirect light. Provide in-ground or container-grown plants fertile, slightly acid soil that's well-drained. Though drought tolerant once established, regular applications of water will produce the healthiest, prettiest plants.

A few copperleafs go a long way in the interior or exterior landscape. Their large, strongly colored leaves look gaudy if overused, so it's best to plant them sparingly as focal accents for shrub or mixed borders.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time


  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, Melanesia, Micronesia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Pink, Light Pink, Rose

  • Fruit Color


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Green, Pink, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Variegated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Red, Green, Pink, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Variegated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Red, Green, Pink, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Variegated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Red, Green, Pink, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    Variegated, SpottedMottled

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Edging, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing